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Marcus v. United States

November 28, 1962


Author: Dumbauld

Before McLAUGHLIN and HASTIE, Circuit Judges, and DUMBAULD, District Judge.

DUMBAULD, District Judge.

Appellant, Arthur Marcus, a resident of Massachusetts, was called as a witness before a federal grand jury at Wilmington, Delaware, on April 2, 1962. He was advised of his rights under the Fifth Amendment, and thereupon refused to answer, relying upon his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, when asked if he had been investigated by the Massachusetts Crime Commission in 1957 and whether he had in 1955 appealed to the Massachusetts Public Utilities Commission because the telephone company had refused to install twelve telephones in his office, and when asked many other questions. He frequently left the grand jury room to consult with counsel in the corridor, but refused to answer any questions, except for a few questions as to his height, weight, age, and marital status, concerning which he added the comment that in his or his counsel's opinion such questions were not germane to the inquiry. The questions asked plainly showed that the inquiry was concerned, inter alia, with unlawful use of telephones to transmit gambling information.

Government counsel on the same date applied to the Court, for an order directing the witness to answer questions, in exchange for the immunity conferred by 47 U.S.C. ยง 409(l), which provides:

"No person shall be excused from attending and testifying or from producing books, papers, schedules of charges, contracts, agreements, and documents before the Commission, or in obedience to the subpoena of the Commission, whether such subpoena be signed or issued by one or more commissioners, or in any cause or proceeding, criminal or otherwise, based upon or growing out of any alleged violation of this chapter, or of any amendments thereto, on the ground or for the reason that the testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of him may tend to incriminate him or subject him to a penalty or forfeiture; but no individual shall be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any transaction, matter, or thing concerning which he is compelled, after having claimed his privilege against self-incrimination, to testify or produce evidence, documentary or otherwise, except that any individual so testifying shall not be exempt from prosecution and punishment for perjury committed in so testifying." (Italics supplied)

This provision is Section 409(a) (i) of the Communications Act of June 19, 1934, 48 Stat. 1064, 1097, renumbered as Section 409(l) by the Act of July 16, 1952, 66 Stat. 710, 722. The only variation between the two texts is that "chapter" is substituted for "Act" in the U.S.C. version. The provision is therefore applicable in any criminal proceeding involving alleged violation of the Communications Act.

After hearing and argument, the Court on April 17, 1962, entered an order granting the application for immunization of the witness, who, together with the grand jury, appeared in open court on April 18, 1962, at which time the Court explained the situation and said, inter alia, "Mr. Marcus, I order you to answer completely and truthfully all questions propounded to you in the course of [your] forthcoming appearance before the grand jury." (Tr. 99; 40-A).

This language of the court is to be read in context with the request of the Government attorney indicating the scope of the questions to be asked and of the inquiry itself. Above all it should be remembered that the dispositive factor as to the court's direction is that the questions which were actually asked of appellant were directly within the purview of the investigation.

Within less than an hour the attorneys were in Chief Judge Wright's chambers, reporting that the witness was still recalcitrant. To comply with the notice provisions of Criminal Rule 42(b), a hearing in open court was held at which the Court permitted the reporter to read the questions and answers of the witness before the grand jury. This record showed that on being asked questions he refused to answer, after having repeatedly consulted counsel in the corridor. A hearing for trial on the contempt charge was set for the following day.

On April 19, 1962, Marcus was tried for contempt, without a jury. The reporter testified from his notes, reading the questions and answers before the grand jury. There was no other testimony, but Marcus contended that the immunity statute was inapplicable or unconstitutional. Judge Wright thereupon found the defendant guilty of contempt, and after the usual ritual [see Green v. U.S., 365 U.S. 301, 304-305 (1961)] imposed a six months sentence (indicating that within sixty days the sentence could be reduced if Marcus testified). The District Court denied bail pending appeal, but this Court, after a hearing before Chief Judge Biggs on the same day (and subsequently by order of April 24, 1962) enlarged Marcus on $15,000 bail, with permission to return to Massachusetts. The matter is now before us on an appeal by Marcus from the sentence.

Appellant's position is utterly without merit. It is elementary that a grand jury is an arm of the court, and that refusal to comply with an order of court directing a witness to answer proper questions before the grand jury is a contempt of court. Since the refusal was persisted in even when the witness was afforded a locus poenitentiae and brought before the Court, where the situation was explained fully to him, the refusal was a contempt committed in the actual presence of the court and punishable summarily and without a jury trial in accordance with Criminal Rule 42(a). Brown v. U.S., 359 U.S. 41, 49-51, 79 S. Ct. 539, 3 L. Ed. 2d 609 (1959); Levine v. U.S., 362 U.S. 610, 617, 80 S. Ct. 1038, 4 L. Ed. 2d 989 (1960).

A witness is of course entitled to his constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment. But if an immunity is granted him by statute, as extensive as his privilege (or, as here, more extensive) he may be compelled to testify. Brown v. Walker, 161 U.S. 591, 594, 597-601, 16 S. Ct. 644, 40 L. Ed. 819 (1896); Counselman v. Hitchcock, 142 U.S. 547, 585-586, 12 S. Ct. 195, 35 L. Ed. 1110 (1892); Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 67, 26 S. Ct. 370, 50 L. Ed. 652 (1906); Heike v. U.S., 227 U.S. 131, 141, 33 S. Ct. 226, 57 L. Ed. 450 (1913).

The immunity conferred by the statute involved here, like that in Brown v. U.S., supra, is the automatic statutory consequence of compulsory testimony.*fn1 The immunity is as extensive as the testimony. The contention is groundless that the immunity conferred is limited to proceedings based upon or growing out of the Communications Act.*fn2 As stated in Brown, the reference to that Act "limits only the class of witnesses to whom the immunity will attach, not the scope of the immunity conferred." 359 U.S. at 47, 79 S. Ct. at 544, 545, 3 L. Ed. 2d 609.

Indeed the facts in the Brown case are so closely parallel to those in the case at bar that petitioner's ...

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