280 F.2d 691 (D.C. Cir. 1960), 13694, Deutch v. United States

Docket Nº:13694.
Citation:280 F.2d 691
Party Name:Bernhard DEUTCH, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Case Date:June 18, 1960
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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280 F.2d 691 (D.C. Cir. 1960)

Bernhard DEUTCH, Appellant,


UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

No. 13694.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

June 18, 1960

Argued Feb. 15, 1960.

Mr. Henry w. Sawyer, III, of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, Philadelphia, pa., pro hac vice, by special leave of court, with whom Mr. George Herbert Goodrich, Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellant.

Miss Doris Spangenburg, Asst. U.S. Atty., for appellee.

Messrs. Oliver Gasch, U.S. Atty., Carl W. Belcher, Lewis Carroll, William Hitz, and Harold D. Rhynedance, Jr., Asst. U.S. Atty., were on the brief for appellee.

Mr. John D. Lane, Asst. U.S. Atty., also entered an appearance for appellee.

Before WASHINGTON, BASTIAN and BURGER, Circuit Judges.

BASTIAN, Circuit Judge.

This is a contempt of Congress case arising from a hearing held by a subcommittee of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Appellant

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Deutch was indicted for contempt for his refusal to answer certain questions. 1 He was tried in the District Court by a judge sitting alone (jury having been waived), convicted and sentenced on four of the five counts of the indictment. 2 On appeal, appellant urges that the subject matter under inquiry and the pertinency to that subject matter of the questions set forth in the indictment were not proved by the Government beyond a reasonable doubt to have appeared with indisputable clarity at the time of the subcommittee hearing. Appellant also attacks the legislative purpose of the investigation and the power of the committee to engage in exposure. He also objects to the admission of certain documentary evidence at the trial. Lastly, he relies on his rights under the First Amendment.

In July 1953, the committee began hearings in Albany, New York, in connection with a general investigation of communist activities in that area. 3 At these hearings, there was testimony to the effect that during the period 1947-1953 a communist cell was active on the campus of Cornell University and that students enrolled at the university were accepting positions with communist-controlled labor unions. The committee also received information that appellant had participated in this communist activity and that he might know the name of a professor (theretofore unknown) of the university who had obtained funds for the communist cell. The committee determined to call appellant to inquire into these activities relating to both communism in education and communist infiltration into labor unions.

Thereafter, the committee interrupted the Albany hearings and announced that further hearings were postponed until a later date. The hearings were resumed in Albany in April 1954. At the commencement of the reopened hearing (April 7, 1954), the Chairman of the subcommittee made the following statements:

'This committee is charged by the Congress of the United States with the responsibility of investigating the extent, character, and objects of un-American propaganda activities in the United States, the diffusion within the United States of subversive and un-American propaganda that is instigated from foreign countries, or of a domestic origin, and attacks the principles of the form of government as guaranteed by our Constitution and all other questions in relation thereto that will aid Congress in any necessary remedial legislation.

'The Committee on Un-American Activities will resume this morning the investigation of Communist Party

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activities within the capital area. This is a continuation of the open hearings which were conducted in Albany between July 13 and 16, 1953. The investigation has been extended into adjacent areas, from which witnesses are also expected to be hears.

'A public announcement was made in January that hearings would be resumed here at a much earlier date, but due to my desire not to interfere with sessions of the Federal court, and for reasons beyond the committee's control, it became necessary to postpone them until this time.

* * * * * *

'Other testimony taken at the 1953 Albany hearings related to the efforts of the Communist Party to infiltrate industry and other segments of society in the capital area. Testimony now to be heard is expected to supplement that formerly given on this subject and as indicated will extend into adjacent areas.

'I want to emphasize what I have stated hitherto, namely that the committee is not concerned with the political beliefs or opinions of any witness. It is concerned only with facts showing the extent, character, and objects of Communist Party activities within the areas from which the witnesses are subpenaed.

'I desire also to make it clear that this committee is not interested in any dispute between management and labor or with internal disputes...

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