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HUTCHESON v. UNITED STATES

decided: May 14, 1962.

HUTCHESON
v.
UNITED STATES



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.

Warren, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart; Black and Frankfurter took no part in the decision of this case; White took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Harlan

[ 369 U.S. Page 600]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN announced the judgment of the Court and an opinion in which MR. JUSTICE CLARK and MR. JUSTICE STEWART join.

After a trial without a jury, petitioner was found guilty on all 18 counts of an indictment charging him with having violated 2 U. S. C. § 192*fn1 by refusing to answer pertinent questions put to him on June 27, 1958, by the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, commonly known as the McClellan Committee. He was sentenced to six months' imprisonment and fined $500. The judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, without opinion. We granted certiorari to consider petitioner's constitutional challenges to his conviction. 365 U.S. 866.

The McClellan Committee was established by the Senate in 1957

"to conduct an investigation and study of the extent to which criminal or other improper practices or activities are, or have been, engaged in in the field of labor-management relations or in groups or organizations

[ 369 U.S. Page 601]

     of employees or employers to the detriment of the interests of the public, employers or employees, and to determine whether any changes are required in the laws of the United States in order to protect such interests against the occurrence of such practices or activities." S. Res. 74, 85th Cong., 1st Sess. (1957).*fn2

Pursuing an investigative pattern which in 1957 and the forepart of 1958 had disclosed misuse of union funds for the personal benefit of various union officials,*fn3 the Committee on June 4, 1958, began hearings at Washington, D.C., into the affairs of various organizations, including the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America of which the petitioner was president. Initially, the Committee sought to inquire into the personal financial interests of petitioner and other officials of the Carpenters Union in the World Wide Press, a New York publishing house owned by one Maxwell Raddock, which was publisher of the "Trade Union Courier." More especially the Committee wished to learn whether union funds had been misused in the publication by the Press of a biography of petitioner's father, entitled "The Portrait of an American Labor Leader, William L. Hutcheson." Senator McClellan, Chairman of the Committee,

[ 369 U.S. Page 602]

     announced that the petitioner and Raddock would both be called to testify.*fn4

On June 25 Raddock testified as to the affairs of the "Trade Union Courier" and the publication of the

[ 369 U.S. Page 603]

     Hutcheson book.*fn5 On the following day, however, he claimed the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination with respect to another matter to which the Committee had turned. That matter related to the possible use of union funds or influence to "fix" a 1957 criminal investigation, conducted in Lake County, Indiana, by a state grand jury, into an alleged scheme to defraud the State of Indiana, in which petitioner and two other officials of the Carpenters Union, O. William Blaier and Frank M. Chapman, were allegedly implicated.

The alleged scheme to defraud had been revealed in testimony given before a Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Public Works during May and June 1957. That testimony had disclosed that in June 1956 the petitioner, Blaier, and Chapman had together bought, in their individual capacities, certain real property in Lake County for $20,000, and had shortly thereafter sold it, at a profit of $78,000, to the State of Indiana for highway construction purposes, pursuant to an agreement whereby a deputy in the Indiana Right-of-Way Department was paid one-fifth of that profit.*fn6 The ensuing grand jury proceeding had been terminated in August 1957 without any indictment having been found, with an announcement by the county prosecutor, Metro Holovachka, that "jurisdiction" over the matter was lacking in Lake County, and that the entire $78,000 profit had been returned to the State. Thereafter, in February 1958,

[ 369 U.S. Page 604]

     the petitioner, Blaier, and Chapman were indicted in adjoining Marion County on this transaction.*fn7

It is apparent from the questioning of Raddock by the chief counsel for the McClellan Committee that the Committee had information indicating that Raddock, the petitioner, Blaier, and several officials of the Teamsters Union had been involved in a plan whereby Holovachka had been induced to drop the Lake County grand jury investigation, and Committee counsel explained to Raddock that the Committee was interested to learn whether union funds or influence had been used for that purpose.*fn8

In addition to Raddock, whose self-incrimination plea with respect to all questions relating to that episode was respected by the Committee, Blaier, and two witnesses connected with an Indiana Local of the Teamsters Union, Michael Sawochka its secretary-treasurer and Joseph P. Sullivan its attorney, were also examined before the Committee on June 26. Sawochka and Sullivan each refused to answer any questions relating to the termination of the Lake County grand jury proceedings, Sawochka basing his refusal on the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, and Sullivan invoking the attorney-client privilege insofar as the questions related to any discussions with Sawochka. Both claims were honored by the Committee.

Blaier, who was asked no questions regarding the Lake County real estate transaction itself,*fn9 refused to answer the question whether he had made "any arrangements for

[ 369 U.S. Page 605]

     Mr. Max Raddock to fix any case for you in Indiana." He asserted that the question "relates solely to a personal matter, not pertinent to any activity which this committee is authorized to investigate and . . . it might aid the prosecution in the case in which I am under indictment." The Committee Chairman, without ruling on the objection, stated that the witness might claim the privilege against self-incrimination. Although Blaier did not thereafter do so, he was never directed by the Committee to answer this question.*fn10

The last witness who was examined by the Committee on this phase of its investigation was the petitioner, who was called on June 27. He answered questions concerning the publication by Raddock of the biography of petitioner's father, commissioned by the Carpenters Union at a total expense of $310,000. When the inquiry turned to the subject of the Lake County grand jury investigation, however, petitioner refused to answer any questions. Being under the same indictment as Blaier and represented by the same counsel, petitioner's grounds for refusal were the same as those which had been advanced the day before by Blaier: "it [the question] relates solely to a personal matter, not pertinent to any activity which this committee is authorized to investigate, and also it

[ 369 U.S. Page 606]

     relates or might be claimed to relate to or aid the prosecution in the case in which I am under indictment and thus be in denial of due process of law."*fn11 No claim of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination was made at any stage. This objection, upon which the petitioner stood throughout this phase of his interrogation, was overruled by the Committee, and petitioner was directed, and refused to answer, each of the 18 questions constituting the subject matter of the indictment upon which he has been convicted.*fn12

[ 369 U.S. Page 607]

     The many arguments now made to us in support of reversal are reducible to two constitutional challenges. First, it is contended that questioning petitioner on any matters germane to the state criminal charges then pending against him was offensive to the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Second, it is argued that the Committee invaded domains constitutionally reserved to the Executive and the Judiciary, in that its inquiry was simply aimed at petitioner's "exposure" and served no legislative purpose. For reasons now to be discussed we decide that neither challenge is availing.

I.

Due Process.

The Committee's interrogation is said to have been fundamentally unfair in two respects: (1) it placed the petitioner in a position where, save for silence, his only choice lay between prejudicing his defense to the state indictment, and committing perjury; and (2) it was a "pretrial" of the state charges before the Committee. The first of these propositions rests on two premises respecting Indiana law, which we accept for the purposes of the ensuing discussion: admissions of an attempt to "fix" the grand jury investigation could have been used against petitioner in the state trial as evidence of consciousness of guilt (see, e. g., Davidson v. State, 205 Ind. 564, 569, 187 N. E. 376, 378); a claim of the federal self-incrimination

[ 369 U.S. Page 608]

     privilege before that Committee could also have been so used, at least to impeach petitioner's testimony had he taken the stand at the state trial (see Crickmore v. State, 213 Ind. 586, 592-593, 12 N. E. 2d 266, 269).

The contention respecting Indiana's future use of incriminatory answers at once encounters an obstacle in Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, and United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141. Those cases establish that possible self-incrimination under state law is not a ground for refusing to answer questions in a federal inquiry; accordingly, the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination will not avail one so circumstanced. Manifestly, this constitutional doctrine is no less relevant here either because the petitioner was actually under, and not merely threatened with, state indictment at the time of his appearance before the Committee, or because of the likelihood that the Committee would have respected, even though not required to do so under existing law, a privilege claim had one been made.

Recognizing this obstacle, petitioner asks us to overrule Hale and Murdock, asserting that both decisions rested on misapprehensions as to earlier American and English law.*fn13 But we need not consider those contentions,

[ 369 U.S. Page 609]

     for petitioner never having claimed the Fifth Amendment privilege before the Committee, this aspect of his due process challenge is not open to him now. This is not a case like Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155, or Emspak v. United States, 349 U.S. 190, where there is doubt whether that privilege was invoked by the witness. "If," as was noted in Emspak, at 195, "the witness intelligently and unequivocally waives any objection based on the Self-Incrimination Clause, or if the witness refuses a committee request to state whether he relies on the Self-Incrimination Clause, he cannot later invoke its protection in a prosecution for contempt for refusing to answer that question." In this instance, the petitioner, with counsel at his side, unequivocally and repeatedly disclaimed any reliance on the Fifth Amendment privilege.*fn14

[ 369 U.S. Page 610]

     Petitioner cannot escape the effect of his waiver by arguing, as he does, that his refusals to answer were based on "due process" grounds, and not upon a claim of "privilege." We agree, of course, that a congressional committee's right to inquire is "subject to" all relevant "limitations placed by the Constitution on governmental action," including " the relevant limitations of the Bill of

[ 369 U.S. Page 611]

     Rights," Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 112; that such limitations go beyond the protection of the self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment, id., 111-112, and that nonreliance on one such limitation does not preclude reliance on another. But it is surely equally clear that where, as here, the validity of a particular constitutional objection depends in part on the availability of another, both must be adequately raised before the inquiring committee if the former is to be fully preserved for review in this Court.

To hold otherwise would enable a witness to toy with a congressional committee in a manner obnoxious to the rule that such committees are entitled to be clearly apprised of the grounds on which a witness asserts a right of refusal to answer. Emspak v. United States, supra, at 195; cf. Barenblatt v. United States, supra, at 123-124. The present case indeed furnishes an apt illustration of this. Pursuant to its policy of respecting Fifth Amendment privilege claims with respect to "state" self-incrimination (even though with Hale and Murdock still on the books it need not have done so), the Committee was at pains to discover whether petitioner's due process objection included a privilege claim. Had he made such a claim, there is little doubt but that the Committee would have honored it. It was only after petitioner's express disclaimer of the privilege that the Committee proceeded to disallow his due process objection. Now to consider that the self-incrimination aspect of petitioner's due process claim is still open to him would in effect require us to say that, despite petitioner's unequivocal disclaimer, the Committee should nonetheless have taken his due process objection as subsuming also a privilege claim.*fn15 We cannot so consider the situation.

[ 369 U.S. Page 612]

     We also find untenable the contention that possible use in the state trial of a claim of the federal privilege against self-incrimination either excused petitioner from asserting it before the Committee or furnishes independent support for his due process challenge. Whether or not, as is intimated by the Government, but, for obvious reasons, not by the petitioner, the State's use of such a claim directly or for impeachment purposes might be preventable, need not now be considered. For if such a proposition is arguable in the face of Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, and Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. 46, 51, let alone Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371; Feldman v. United States, 322 U.S. 487; Hale v. Henkel, supra, and United States v. Murdock, supra, its consideration should in any event await another day. The appropriate time for that, had the petitioner in this instance claimed the privilege before the Committee, would have been upon review of his state conviction, when we would have known exactly what use, if any, the State had made of the federal claim. To thwart the exercise of legitimate congressional power, on the basis of conjecture that a State may later abuse an individual's reliance upon federally assured rights, would require of us a constitutional adjudication contrary to well-established principles of ripeness and justiciability. Cf. United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U.S. 75, 89-90.

There remains for discussion on the due process challenge, the contention that the Committee's inquiry was a "pretrial" of the state indictment. Insofar as this proposition suggests that the congressional inquiry infected the later state proceedings, the answer to it is found in what we have just said respecting the contention

[ 369 U.S. Page 613]

     that a claim of self-incrimination before the Committee could have been used in the state proceedings. If the Committee's public hearings rendered petitioner's state trial unfair, such a challenge should not be dealt with at this juncture. The proper time for its consideration would be on review of the state conviction. To determine it now would require us to ...


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