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Wilcox v. Jeffery

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    Bloomberg Law

    Brief Fact Summary. Herbert Wilcox (Wilcox), the proprietor of Jazz Illustrated, was charged with aiding and abetting Coleman Hawkins (Hawkins) in contravention of the Aliens Order of 1920, by failing to comply with a condition stating that Hawkins shall take no employment, paid or unpaid, while in the United Kingdom and shall not land in the country without the leave of an immigration officer.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Aiding and abetting can be found through the mere encouragement of criminal activity. The encouragement does not have to be directly communicated to the person committing the criminal offense.

    Facts. Hawkins is a celebrated saxophone player. Mr. Curtis and Mr. Hughes, owners of a jazz club in Willesden, invited Hawkins to the United Kingdom to perform a concert. Although Mr. Curtis and Hawkins had applied for permission for Hawkins to land, their petition was refused. Wilcox was present when Hawkins landed at the airport. Despite the law, Hawkins came to the country anyway and a concert was arranged at the Princess Theatre in London. Wilcox purchased a ticket for the show and subsequently, wrote about that show for publication in his magazine.

    Issue. Can Wilcox be convicted of aiding and abetting an offense committed by Hawkins, an individual whom Wilcox has never met?

    Held. The evidence presented was sufficient for the magistrate to find that Wilcox aided and abetted the offense committed by Hawkins.

    Discussion. The court found that several of Wilcox’s actions contributed to his conviction on the charge of aiding and abetting, including:
    The fact that Wilcox came to the airport to report the arrival of Hawkins for Jazz Illustrated showed the important effect Hawkins’ arrival had for the jazz industry. Further, his arrival was newsworthy to Wilcox, who could report Hawkins arrival in order to sell copies of the magazine.

    Wilcox clearly knew that it was an unlawful act for Hawkins to play without permission in the United Kingdom. Further, Wilcox’s paid presence at the concert, as well as his verbal encouragement, support the fact that Wilcox was aiding and abetting Hawkins to play illegally.

    The court noted that the decision might have turned out differently had Wilcox paid for his tickets to the concert, yet protested Hawkins’ play while the concert was occurring. This is a strange result considering the court’s focus on the payment for the tickets. No matter what Wilcox did when he came to the theatre, his payment for the tickets could be seen as aiding and abetting Hawkins’ actions just as much as does an article later printed in a magazine. In fact, the later magazine article might be seen as not really aiding and abetting Hawkins at all. This is true because the mere fact that an article was published does not mean that Wilcox will be encouraged to break the laws of the United Kingdom in the future. The fact that Hawkins was coming to the country to play for a paying audience encourages anyone who paid for tickets to that show to break the laws of the country on that night only.


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