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United States v. Grusse

decided: February 27, 1975.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
ELLEN GRUSSE AND MARIE THERESA TURGEON, APPELLANTS



Appeal from orders entered in the District of Connecticut, Jon O. Newman, District Judge, adjudicating appellants in civil contempt for refusing, after having been granted use immunity, to answer questions before a federal grand jury. Affirmed.

Lumbard, Oakes and Timbers, Circuit Judges. Lumbard, Circuit Judge (concurring). Oakes, Circuit Judge (dissenting).

Author: Timbers

TIMBERS, Circuit Judge:

Ellen Grusse and Marie Theresa Turgeon appeal from orders entered February 19, 1975 in the District of Connecticut, Jon O. Newman, District Judge, adjudicating them in civil contempt, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1826(a) (1970), for refusing to answer questions before a federal grand jury after having been granted use immunity pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 6002-03 (1970). They were remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal until they purge themselves of their contempt, but in no event is their custody pursuant to the instant contempt orders to extend beyond the term of the present grand jury which expires April 1, 1975. On this expedited appeal, we affirm.

The grand jury is investigating possible violations of federal laws in the District of Connecticut by individuals who may have assisted two fugitives who are charged in an indictment in the District of Massachusetts with participation in a bank robbery in which a police officer was shot and killed.

Appellants were first called as witnesses before the grand jury on January 28, 1975. During the period of one month from that date until today, February 27, appellants have been represented continuously by counsel. The sequence of proceedings in the district court is a matter of record as set forth in Judge Newman's opinion, upon which we affirm.

The case first was brought to the attention of our Court on February 20 when appellants filed a motion for a stay of the district court orders or for bail pending appeal. The stay which had been granted by the district court was continued by another panel of our Court until February 26. Appellants' motion for a stay or bail was heard by the present panel (Judges Lumbard, Oakes and Timbers) on February 25. We continued the stay until we could hear the appeal on the merits. We expedited the appeal and heard it today. We have carefully considered the briefs, the record and the able arguments of counsel on both sides.

We affirm the orders of the district court essentially on three grounds: the statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1826 (1970); our recent decision in United States v. Persico, 491 F.2d 1156 (2 Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 924, 95 S. Ct. 199, 42 L. Ed. 2d 158, 43 U.S.L.W. 3240 (1974); and the excellent district court opinion of Judge Newman herein dated February 19, 1975.

First, the starting point necessarily must be the strong public policy reflected in the statute itself. We noted the legislative history in our recent opinion in Persico, supra, 491 F.2d at 1161, and particularly the "Congressional concern over disruption of smooth and efficient operation of the grand jury system". Id.

Second, our decision in Persico is controlling on the fundamental issue here involved. While there is a factual variation between Persico and the instant case, in our view the present case is an even more compelling one for adhering to the strong public policy of this Circuit of not permitting disruption of grand jury proceedings absent compelling reasons. We find no such compelling reasons here. See United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 38 L. Ed. 2d 561, 94 S. Ct. 613 (1974); Gelbard v. United States, 408 U.S. 41, 70, 33 L. Ed. 2d 179, 92 S. Ct. 2357 (1972) (concurring opinion of Mr. Justice White).

Third, the excellent opinion below of Judge Newman is a striking example of the balancing by a conscientious and comprehending district judge of the interests of the appellants as witnesses before the grand jury, on the one hand, and, on the other, of the public interest. We hold that the district court's findings are unassailable and we agree with the district court's conclusions.

We affirm the contempt orders of the district court on the opinion of Judge Newman, 402 F. Supp. 1232 (D.Conn. 1975), and we vacate the stay of those orders heretofore entered by this Court.

Affirmed.

Disposit ...


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