357 U.S. 1 (1958), 234, National Labor Relations Board v. Duval Jewelry Company of Miami, Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 234
Citation:357 U.S. 1, 78 S.Ct. 1024, 2 L.Ed.2d 1097
Party Name:National Labor Relations Board v. Duval Jewelry Company of Miami, Inc.
Case Date:June 09, 1958
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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357 U.S. 1 (1958)

78 S.Ct. 1024, 2 L.Ed.2d 1097

National Labor Relations Board

v.

Duval Jewelry Company of Miami, Inc.

No. 234

United States Supreme Court

June 9, 1958

Argued May 20, 1958

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

In a proceeding under the National Labor Relations Act by a union to obtain a representation election among the employees of a retail store, subpoenas duces tecum were issued, directed to respondents, who moved before both the Board and the hearing officer to revoke them. The Board refused to entertain the motions on the ground that, under its rules and regulations, they required an initial ruling by the hearing officer. That officer denied the motions; the ruling was not appealed; respondents refuse to comply with the subpoenas; and the Board instituted proceedings in the District Court to enforce them. The District Court quashed them, and the Court of Appeals sustained the District Court, on the ground that the Board alone could rule on motions to revoke subpoenas duces tecum in representation proceedings.

Held: though §11(1) of the Act gives a person served with a subpoena duces tecum the right to petition the Board to revoke it, there is no illegality in the Board's delegation of authority to the hearing officer to make a preliminary ruling on such a motion, since the Board reserves to itself the final decision. Therefore, the judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further proceedings. Pp. 2-8.

(a) Cudahy Packing Co. v. Holland, 315 U.S. 357, and Fleming v. Mohawk Wrecking Co., 331 U.S. 111, distinguished. P. 7.

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(b) That special permission of the Board is required for an appeal is not important, since that is merely a method of ascertaining whether a substantial question is raised concerning the validity of the subordinate's ruling, and a decision by the Board that no substantial question is raised satisfies the requirements of § 11(1). Pp. 7-8.

234 F.2d 427 reversed and cause remanded.

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This controversy grows out of an effort of a union to obtain a representation election1 among the employees of respondent, Duval Jewelry Co., a retail store. The latter moved to dismiss on the ground that its interstate operations were inadequate to meet the jurisdictional

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tests of the Act. Five subpoenas duces tecum and one subpoena ad testificandum were issued.2 The persons to whom the subpoenas were directed moved before [78 S.Ct. 1026] both the Board and the hearing officer to revoke the subpoenas.3

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The Board refused to entertain the motions to revoke on the grounds that those motions, under its Rules and Regulations,4 require an initial ruling by the hearing officer. That officer, after granting an opportunity for a hearing, denied the motions to revoke. That ruling was not appealed, and respondents refused to comply with the subpoenas. Thereupon, the Board instituted this proceeding in the District Court for enforcement of them.5

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The District Court quashed the subpoenas, holding them unreasonable and oppressive. It also held they had been invalidly issued. 141 F.Supp. 860. The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court on the subpoena ad testificandum, and no question concerning it is before us. But it upheld the District Court as respects the subpoenas duces tecum on the ground that the Board alone could rule on motions to revoke subpoenas duces tecum in representation proceedings. 243 F.2d 427. The case is here on a writ of certiorari, 355 U.S. 809 which we granted because of a conflict among the Circuits. See, e.g., Labor Board v. Lewis, 249 F.2d 832, 833, 836-837; Labor Board v. Gunaca, 135 F.Supp. 790, aff'd, 230 F.2d 542.

There is a degree of delegation of authority in connection with a motion to revoke a subpoena duces tecum. The Board's Rules and Regulations provide that a motion to revoke is first heard by the regional director or by the hearing officer.6 But the ruling of that subordinate official is not final. Machinery is provided in the Rules for an appeal from that ruling to the Board.7

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We are advised that, in practice, the aggrieved party asks the Board for leave to appeal, stating the grounds relied upon. The Board, in deciding whether to grant the appeal, considers the merits. If no substantial question has been raised, leave to appeal is denied. If a substantial question is presented, leave to appeal is granted. Sometimes, when leave to appeal is granted, action is forthwith taken on the merits, the ruling of the hearing officer being reversed or modified.8 Or where an immediate ruling by the Board on a motion to revoke is not required, the Board defers its ruling until the entire case is transferred to it in normal course.9

Section 11(1) of the Act, as noted,10 gives a person served with a subpoena duces tecum the right to "petition the Board...

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