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United States v. De Simone

decided: May 29, 1959.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
FRANK DE SIMONE, APPELLANT.



Author: Washington

Before WASHINGTON,*fn* WATERMAN and MOORE, Circuit Judges.

WASHINGTON, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment of criminal contempt entered after a trial pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 42(b), 18 U.S.C.A.,*fn1 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

On April 28, 1958, the appellant De Simone, while resident in Los Angeles, California, was served with a Federal Grand Jury subpoena, requiring him to appear on May 7, 1958, to testify before a Grand Jury sitting in the Southern District of New York. Prior to the return date, appellant's lawyer attempted several times to obtain a temporary adjournment, but without success. On the return date, De Simone failed to appear before the Grand Jury. That body thereupon issued a presentment for criminal contempt charging that De Simone "wilfully, deliberately and contumaciously obstructed the process of this Court in failing and refusing to appear before this Grand Jury to answer the proper questions in said proceeding before this Grand Jury." A writ was issued for the appellant's arrest. On May 19, 1958, De Simone voluntarily appeared in New York and surrendered. At the trial the appellant made no attempt to explain his failure to appear on the return date, or his whereabouts between April 28th and his ultimate surrender on May 19th. The appellant was found guilty of contempt and sentenced in the manner described in Part V of this opinion. This appeal followed.

I.

Appellant's first contention is that the contempt proceeding should have been initiated by an indictment or information pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 7(a), as in all Federal criminal prosecutions, instead of by a Grand Jury presentment for contempt. But criminal contempts are not considered crimes in the constitutional sense, being governed by Fed.R.Crim.P. 42.Green v. United States, 1958, 356 U.S. 165, 187 note 20, 78 S. Ct. 632, 2 L. Ed. 2d 672. Rule 42 does not call for an indictment or information. Under Rule 42(a), summary punishment is allowed for contempt within the actual presence of the court. Other criminal contempts - such as that involved here - are prosecuted upon notice under Rule 42(b). The latter Rule requires that the notice shall "state the time and place of hearing, allowing a reasonable time for the preparation of the defense, and shall state the essential facts constituting the criminal contempt charged and describe it as such." The Rule further requires that the notice be either oral if given by a judge in open court in the presence of the defendant, or by an order to show cause or an order of arrest if made on application of the United States Attorney or an attorney appointed by the court for that purpose. It is true that there is no specific provision in Rule 42(b) for notice by Grand Jury presentment. But we think appellant received ample actual notice from the presentment and the court proceedings which followed. The presentment stated the essential facts constituting the contempt, and the trial judge set the time and place for hearing with adequate opportunity for the defendant to prepare his defense.There being no prejudice to the defendant, see United States v. United Mine Workers, 1947, 330 U.S. 258, 298, 67 S. Ct. 677, 91 L. Ed. 884, the requirements of Rule 42(b) were adequately met, see United States v. Goldfarb, 2 Cir., 1948, 167 F.2d 735; Carlson v. United States, 1 Cir., 1954, 209 F.2d 209, 218.

II.

As the second point of error, the appellant urges that he was improperly deprived of a trial by jury. There is, of course, no constitutional right to a trial by jury in criminal contempt cases. See, e. g., Green v. United States, 356 U.S. at pages 183, 186, 78 S. Ct. at page 642; In re Debs, 1895, 158 U.S. 564, 594-595, 596, 15 S. Ct. 900, 39 L. Ed. 1092. Nor in the present case was there a statutory right to a jury trial. Rule 42(b) allows "a trial by jury in any case in which an act of Congress so provides," and 18 U.S.C. § 3691 (1952) entitles a defendant to a jury trial if "the act or thing done or omitted also constitutes a criminal offense under any Act of Congress, or under the laws of any state in which it was done or omitted."*fn2 See also 18 U.S.C. § 402 (1952). But the fact remains that the failure to respond to a Federal Grand Jury subpoena does not independently constitute an offense under any act of Congress; nor is it a violation of any statute of New York or California to which our attention has been called. The failure to respond to a Grand Jury subpoena is therefore to be tried without a jury, as a criminal contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3) (1952).*fn3 See Green v. United States, 356 U.S. at page 182, 78 S. Ct. at page 642.*fn4

III.

The appellant further urges that the subpoena itself was invalid for a variety of reasons. Several of these are frivolous on their face. The only colorable claim of error is the alleged failure of the agent who served the subpoena to tender witness and travel fees pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 17(d).*fn5 It is true that the agent did not actually offer De Simone the fees on the spot, but he did inform him that funds were available at the Los Angeles Marshal's office - some ten minutes away from the actual place of service. The agent further informed De Simone that he was prepared to escort him to the Marshal's office to obtain the fees. De Simone rejected the offer, saying that he knew where the office was and would go there himself. But he never went. Under such circumstances, the offer to make the funds available at the Marshal's office must be considered a sufficient tender of the fees, in substantial compliance with Rule 17(d).*fn6 Cf. United States v. United Mine Workers, 330 U.S. at page 298, 67 S. Ct. at page 698; Carlson v. United States, 1 Cir., 209 F.2d at page 218.*fn7

Other allegations of error relate to the evidence. The appellant objects to the admission of hearsay and supposedly prejudicial evidence. The judge, however, allowed such evidence into the record subject to its connection with the actual contempt. Whatever prejudice might have existed had the case been tried to a jury did not exist here, as the trial was before a judge sitting without a jury. Personal bias or prejudice on the part of the trial judge is not alleged.

The appellant also objects to the admission of evidence relating to his activities prior to the date of service of the Grand Jury subpoena. But such evidence was directly relevant to the question of intent, wilfulness, and contumaciousness. Cf. Silverman v. United States, 8 Cir., 1955, 220 F.2d 36, 39.

The appellant also urges that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But surely the appellant's failure to appear on the return date was sufficient in itself to establish a prima facie case as to the requisite intent and wilfulness. "The burden was then upon the appellant to show that he had in good faith tried to comply." United States v. Johnson, 2 Cir., 247 F.2d 5, 8, certiorari denied, 1957, 355 U.S. 867, 78 S. Ct. 116, 2 L. Ed. 2d 74; see United States v. Fleischman, 1950, 339 U.S. 349, 360-363, 70 S. Ct. 739, 94 L. Ed. 906. As we have noted, De Simone made no attempt to explain his failure to appear on the return date or his ...


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