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Organ v. Securities and Exchange Commission

July 24, 1961


Before Lumbard, Chief Judge, and Goodrich*fn* and Friendly, Circuit Judges.

Author: Goodrich

GOODRICH, Circuit Judge.

This is a petition to review an order of the Securities and Exchange Commission which revoked Organ & Co.'s registration with the Commission as a broker and dealer in securities and recites that Organ is the cause of the revocation. The review is sought under Section 25(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C.A. § 78y(a).

The background of the case may be summarized as follows:

J. H. Lederer Co., Inc. had been registered with the Commission as a broker and dealer. Its registration was revoked on December 28, 1958, for violation of fraud provisions of the statute. Organ was a salesman employed by Lederer in 1958, a period during which Lederer was conducting a selling campaign of stock of a company named Continental Mining Exploration, Ltd. Organ & Co. was organized in January, 1959, and its application for registration as a broker and dealer was received by the Commission on October 19, 1959. The Commission instituted proceedings to determine whether Organ, while employed by Lederer, had violated fraud provisions of the federal securities acts. The Commission postponed the effective date of Organ & Co.'s application for 15 days and directed a hearing to determine whether the effective date of registration should be further postponed pending denial proceedings. The hearing was held, but the Commission did not reach a determination on this question prior to the date on which the application became effective by lapse of time.*fn1 The Commission, on January 28th, dismissed the denial proceeding on the ground that it had become moot and in the same order instituted a revocation proceeding which resulted in the revocation order under review here. The record developed in the preliminary hearing on postponement was incorporated into the record of the revocation proceeding. Petitioners make four points.

The first point is that the Commission's order is not supported by substantial evidence. Chiefly concerned in the consideration of this objection is the Commission's claim that certain representations made over the telephone and which were fraudulent*fn2 were made by Organ. There were two of these telephone conversations going to the same prospective customer. The caller identified himself as Organ. The recipient, who subsequently bought stock,*fn3 did not know Organ but identified the caller's voice as the same on the two occasions. Although this evidence might not be enough by itself to justify a conclusion that Organ was the caller, there was considerably more. The written confirmations of the sale received by the purchaser bore the initials "N. O." which were Organ's initials and Hallen, the purchaser, cancelled one of his purchases by notice addressed to Lederer marked to the attention of Organ. Further, Hallen was given a telephone number to call in order to get in touch with the salesman who identified himself as Organ, and this telephone number was used by Organ in calling other customers., The trial examiner did not think that this was enough to identify Organ as the caller on the telephone; the Commission thought otherwise. It is the Commission's responsibility to decide the question and the fact that it differed with the examiner does not matter.*fn4

The Commission pointed out correctly that this is a non-criminal case and that Organ's failure to testify is significant. He did not deny the evidence just recited and the accepted rule is that failure to explain facts and circumstances warrants the inference that his testimony would have been adverse.*fn5

We agree with the Commission that the factors are sufficient to establish Organ as the maker of the communication.*fn6

The second point is that the proceedings fell under the principles set out in Jencks v. United States, 1957, 353 U.S. 657, 77 S. Ct. 1007, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1103.

An investigator for the Commission interviewed Hallen and made notes for the purpose of preparing an affidavit to be signed by Hallen. He did prepare such an affidavit and destroyed the notes. Hallen did not see the notes which, it was testified, were simply to serve as cues for the preparation of the affidavits by the investigator. In the hearing Hallen was shown the affidavit to refresh his recollection. Petitioners' counsel had opportunity before Hallen testified to read the affidavit, and it was in the hands of petitioners' counsel for cross-examination of Hallen.

There was no suggestion that these notes were destroyed with any intent to suppress evidence. See United States v. Thomas, 2 Cir., 1960, 282 F.2d 191. There was no refusal by the Government to produce a statement within the meaning of the so-called "Jencks" statute. 18 U.S.C. § 3500. The only statement that Hallen signed was shown to Organ's counsel as stated above. There was no violation of any right of Organ involved here.

Third, petitioners charge that the Commission's publication of the notice of the proceedings constituted a prejudgment against them and was a denial of due process. This Court had occasion to comment on this subject in Gilligan, Will & Co. v. S. E. C., 2 Cir., 267 F.2d 461, certiorari denied 1959, 361 U.S. 896, 80 S. Ct. 200, 4 L. Ed. 2d 152. It was there said:

"Apart from § 5 [of the Administrative Procedure Act] and the restrictions it may impose, the Commission's reputation for objectivity and impartiality is opened to challenge by the adoption of a procedure from which a disinterested observer may conclude that it has in some measure adjudged the facts as well as the law of a particular case in advance of hearing it. There would appear to be no such conflict between the Commission's duty to inform the public and its duty to prosecute as would necessitate the use of press releases of the kind here questioned." 267 F.2d at pages 468-469.

We reiterate that statement. It is not the business of this or any other court to write publicity notices for the Commission. But we think it should be borne in mind that when the body which is the investigator, the prosecutor and the judge starts a proceeding by saying that the order of the Commission asserts that members of its staff have reported information tending to show that Organ has violated anti-fraudulent provisions, it creates an impression which could be interpreted as tending to indicate that the Commission had already made up its mind. We do not think the Commission intended such a result; we certainly do ...

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