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UNITED STATES v. OLSON

October 11, 1955

UNITED STATES of America
v.
James B. E. OLSON, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS

This is a defendant's motion, the surviving aspects of which are:

1. To suppress the use of statements made by the defendant on August 23, 1951 before Messrs. Shapiro, assistant counsel, and Schachner, special counsel, respectively, to the so-called King Committee; and James W. Dowling, special investigator thereof.

 2. To suppress testimony given by the defendant before the Grand Jury which found the indictment against him.

 3. To suppress all books, records, documents, etc., owned by and belonging to the defendant which were covered by a subpoena issued by the said Grand Jury, obedience to which was unsuccessfully challenged before Judge Inch on February 11, 1952.

 These matters have been twice argued, and were the subject of an interim memorandum by the undersigned dated February 21, 1955.

 Pursuant thereto a stipulation dated March 7, 1955 was filed in the Clerk's Office, of which I was not apprised until September 26, 1955. An order approving the stipulation was signed October 6, 1955.

 The object thereby sought to be accomplished was to eliminate controversy concerning any factual aspects of the matters involved, so that decision could proceed as upon questions of law.

 It is believed that such purpose has been achieved.

 The first contention is to be disposed of in light of the record as referred to in the said stipulation, namely the colloquy between the defendant and Messrs. Shapiro and Schachner. The former told the defendant that the so-called King Committee 'is looking into the general administration of the Income Tax Laws * * * You are not here under subpoena and you are appearing voluntarily * * * witnesses have, of course, under the United States Constitution, a privilege not to answer any questions, the answers to which might tend to show or might be used to prove that they have in some way committed a crime against the United States * * * if there is any topic which you think might fall under that privilege, you tell us about that and we won't ask you any questions about it.

 'Mr. Olson: I have no objection.'

 The defendant was not an untutored person in such matters, for it was stated by his counsel in argument that he had formerly (1946) been a deputy Collector of Internal Revenue, and an interim Collector. Having left the Government service for about two years, he returned in 1948 to become Supervisor of the Alcohol Tax Unit, and so continued until about August 31, 1951 when his resignation became effective. On August 23, 1951 he was yet in the Government service.

 That which took place on August 23, 1951 was not a hearing before the Congressional Committee, no member of which was present, but consisted of inquiries made by investigators in pursuit of their authorized calling. As pointed out in United States v. Brennan, 94 U.S.App.D.C. 184, 214 F.2d 268, at page 271, certiorari denied 348 U.S. 830, 75 S. Ct. 53, the witness Olson could not have been dealt with as in contempt of the Committee, had he refused to answer the questions propounded by the investigators.

 The argument is advanced by defendant that he was under compulsion, and that his appearance before the investigators was ...


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