269 F.2d 357 (6th Cir. 1959), 13373, Davis v. United States

Docket Nº:13373.
Citation:269 F.2d 357
Party Name:Horace Chandler DAVIS, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Case Date:August 21, 1959
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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269 F.2d 357 (6th Cir. 1959)

Horace Chandler DAVIS, Appellant,


UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

No. 13373.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

August 21, 1959

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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         Philip Wittenberg, New York City (Philip Wittenberg, Irving Like, New York City, of counsel, Wittenberg, Carrington & Farnsworth, New York City, on the brief), for appellant.

         Wendell A. Miles, Grand Rapids, Mich. (Wendell A. Miles, U.S. Atty., Grand Rapids, Mich., on the brief), for appellee.

         Before MILLER, Circuit Judge, and JONES, District Judge.

         SHACKELFORD MILLER, Jr., Circuit Judge.

         The appellant was indicted under a twenty-six count indictment for contempt of Congress in violation of Sec. 192, Title 2 U.S.Code. He was tried by the Court without a jury. The District Judge treated the twenty-six counts as charging only one offense, made a finding of guilty, and imposed a fine of $250.00 and imprisonment for a period of six months. Judgment was stayed pending this appeal.

         Appellant had been a student at Harvard College from 1942 to 1945 and had received his B.S. degree therefrom. He received the degree of Ph. D. from Harvard University in 1950. Thereafter, he had been employed as a teacher of mathematics at the University of Michigan.

         Count 1 of the indictment states that a standing Committee on Un-American Activities was duly elected and certified by the House of Representatives of the 83rd Congress of the United States in accordance with the provisions of Public Law 601, 79th Congress, Chapter 753, 2nd session, known as the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946, 60 Stat. 812; that beginning on February 23, 1953, said Committee commenced public hearings into 'Communist Methods of Infiltration into Education', in accordance with provisions of Public Law 601 and the authority and power of said committee, as provided by Rule XI of House Resolution No. 5; that thereafter, on May 10, 1954, public hearings were held in Lansing, Michigan, by a duly appointed and authorized subcommittee of said Committee on Un-American Activities; that the appellant appeared before said subcommittee on May 10, 1954; that during the course of said hearing appellant was asked the following pertinent question to the inquiry:

         'During the period of time that you were at Harvard as an undergraduate, say between 1942 and 1945, were you aware of the existence on the campus or in Cambridge of an organized group of the Communist Party made up chiefly of members of the student body of Harvard?'

         and that the appellant deliberately and intentionally refused to answer said question claiming privilege under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and persisted in such intentional refusal although directed to answer.

         Each of the remaining counts incorporated the allegations of the first count with respect to the creation of the standing Committee on Un-American Activities and its subcommittee and the hearing on May 10, 1954, and in addition stated that the appellant was asked another pertinent question to the inquiry which he deliberately and intentionally refused to answer.

         The questions set out in counts 1 through 11 dealt with alleged Communist activities at Harvard University and the appellant's awareness of the existence

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of such groups and certain named persons as having been active in such groups. The questions set out in counts 12 through 20 dealt with appellant's connection with and participation in the dissemination of a pamphlet entitled 'Operation Mind' which called upon the people of Detroit to oppose the Committee's presence in the Detroit area, and which bore the notation, 'Distributed by University of Michigan Council of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions, and the Civil Liberties Committee of the University of Michigan.' The questions in the remaining counts dealt with certain political beliefs and associational activities of the appellant including the question whether the appellant had any time during 1952 or 1953 solicited membership in the Communist Party of any faculty member or student of the University of michigan, whether the appellant was a member of the Communist Party and whether he had ever been a member of the Communist Party. The appellant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, which was overruled by the District Judge, and also entered a plea of not guilty.

         There is no factual dispute between the parties, and the appeal presents purely a question of law. The case was argued to this Court on April 21, 1958, but due to the pending review in the United States Supreme Court of the case of Barenblatt v. United States, 102 U.S.App.D.C. 217, 252 F.2d 129, certiorari granted 356 U.S. 929, 78 S.Ct. 771, 2 L.Ed.2d 760, which involved some of the same issues as are raised in this case, a ruling on the present appeal was held in abeyance until the Supreme Court decided Barenblatt. Its opinion in Barenblatt v. United States was handed down on June 8, 1959, and is reported at 360 U.S. 109, 79 S.Ct. 1081, 3 L.Ed.2d 1115.


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