Involuntary Servitude
United States v. Kozminski - 487 U.S. 931 (1988)

.....within the reach of 241 and 1584, was too broad. The Court held that involuntary servitude exists only when

"( a ) the servant believes that he or she has no viable alternative but to perform service for the master ( b ) because of (1) the master's use or threatened use of physical force, or (2) the master's use or threatened use of state-imposed legal coercion (i.e., peonage), or (3) the master's use of fraud or deceit to obtain or maintain services where the servant is a minor, an immigrant or one who is mentally incompetent."

Page 487 U. S. 939

... servitude exists under 241 and 1584 where labor is coerced by "threat of violence or confinement, backed sufficiently by deeds"); United States v. Bibbs, 564 F.2d 1165, 1168 (CA5 1977) (involuntary servitude exists under 1584 where the defendant places the victim "in such fear of physical harm that the victim is afraid to leave"). The Ninth Circuit, in contrast, has not limited the reach of 1584 to cases involving physical force or legal sanction, but has concluded that

"[a] holding in involuntary servitude occurs when an individual coerces another into his service by improper or wrongful conduct that is intended to cause, and does cause, the other person to believe that he or she has no alternative but to perform labor." United States v. Mussry, 726 F.2d 1448, 1453 (1984).


United States v. Mussry, 726 F.2d 1448, 1453 (1984). See also United States v. Warren, 772 F.2d 827, 833-834 (CA11 1985) ("Various forms of coercion may constitute a holding in involuntary servitude. The use, or threatened use, of physical force to create a climate of fear is the most grotesque example of such coercion").

Held: For purposes of criminal prosecution under 241 or 1584, the term "involuntary servitude" necessarily means a condition of servitude in which the victim is forced to work for the defendant by the use or threat of physical restraint or physical injury or by the use or threat of coercion through law or the legal process. This definition encompasses cases in which the defendant holds the victim in servitude by placing him or her in fear of such physical restraint or injury or legal coercion. Pp. 939-953"[a] holding in involuntary servitude occurs when an individual coerces another into his service by improper or wrongful conduct that is intended to cause, and does cause, the other person to believe that he or she has no alternative but to perform labor."


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