369 U.S. 599 (1962), 46, Hutcheson v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 46
Citation:369 U.S. 599, 82 S.Ct. 1005, 8 L.Ed.2d 137
Party Name:Hutcheson v. United States
Case Date:May 14, 1962
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 599

369 U.S. 599 (1962)

82 S.Ct. 1005, 8 L.Ed.2d 137



United States

No. 46

United States Supreme Court

May 14, 1962

Argued November 6, 1961




Summoned to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, which was seeking information to aid in drafting and adopting legislation to curb misuse of union funds by union officials, petitioner, president of a labor union, refused to answer 18 questions pertaining to the use of union funds in an attempt to forestall an indictment in Lake County, Indiana, for the alleged bribery of a state official in connection with a sale of land to the State. He disclaimed any intention to rely on his privilege against self-incrimination; but he claimed that the questions were not pertinent to any activity which the Committee was authorized to investigate, that they were asked for purposes of "exposure," and that they might aid the prosecution of criminal charges then pending against him in a state court, and thus violate his rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. These objections were overruled, but petitioner persisted in his refusal to answer. For such refusal, he was convicted of a violation of 2 U.S.C. § 192, which makes it a misdemeanor for any person summoned as a witness by either House of Congress or a committee thereof to refuse to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry.

Held: the questions which petitioner refused to answer were clearly within the proper scope of the Committee's inquiry; the record does not support a conclusion that they were asked merely for the sake of "exposure" or to aid in the pending state criminal trial; the mere fact that answers to the questions might have been used against petitioner in the pending state criminal trial did not make this conviction violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the conviction is sustained. Pp. 600-628.

109 U.S.App.D.C. 200, 285 F.2d 280, affirmed.

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HARLAN, J., lead opinion

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. § 192,1 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

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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).2 Pursuing an investigation pattern which in 1957 and the forepart of 1958 had disclosed misuse of union funds for the personal benefit of various union officials,3 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,

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announced that the petitioner and Raddock would both be called to testify.4

[82 S.Ct. 1007] On June 25, Raddock testified as to the affairs of the "Trade Union Courier" and the publication of the

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Hutcheson book.5 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.6 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,

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the petitioner, Blaier, and Chapman were indicted in adjoining Marion County on this transaction.7

[82 S.Ct. 1008] 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.8

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,9 refused to answer the question whether he had made "any arrangements for

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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.10

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

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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.11

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.12

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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...

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