458 U.S. 263 (1982), 81-1144, United States v. Hollywood Motor Car Co., Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 81-1144
Citation:458 U.S. 263, 102 S.Ct. 3081, 73 L.Ed.2d 754
Party Name:United States v. Hollywood Motor Car Co., Inc.
Case Date:June 28, 1982
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 263

458 U.S. 263 (1982)

102 S.Ct. 3081, 73 L.Ed.2d 754

United States

v.

Hollywood Motor Car Co., Inc.

No. 81-1144

United States Supreme Court

June 28, 1982

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED

STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

After respondents, originally indicted on two federal criminal counts in the Eastern District of Kentucky, obtained a change of venue to the Central District of California, the Government secured a superseding indictment which added four new counts. The Government then obtained a voluntary dismissal of three of the counts (including one of the original counts), and respondents moved to dismiss the remaining counts on the ground that the superseding indictment manifested prosecutorial vindictiveness in retaliation for their exercising their right to a change of venue, and thus ran afoul of the rule announced in Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21. The District Court denied the motion, but stayed the trial to permit an appeal. The Court of Appeals held that the denial of the motion to dismiss was immediately appealable as a "final decision" under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and that respondents had established a case of prosecutorial vindictiveness requiring dismissal of the superseding indictment.

Held: The Court of Appeals was without jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 to review the District Court's interlocutory order refusing to dismiss the indictment. The policy embodied in § 1291 is inimical to piecemeal appellate review of trial court decisions that do not terminate the litigation, and this policy is at its strongest in the field of criminal law. Respondents' claim of prosecutorial vindictiveness does not fall within the narrow group of claims coming within the "collateral order" exception to § 1291's rule of finality. Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1; Abney v. United States, 431 U.S. 651; and Helstoski v. Meanor, 442 U.S. 500, distinguished. A claim of prosecutorial vindictiveness does not meet the test under such exception of being "effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment." Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U.S. 463, 468. Cf. United States v. MacDonald, 435 U.S. 850.

Certiorari granted; 646 F.2d 384, reversed.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

Respondents, originally indicted in the Eastern District of Kentucky on two counts for violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371

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and 545, succeeded in obtaining a change of venue to the Central District of California. In the latter District, the Government secured a superseding indictment charging four new substantive counts of making false statements to customs officers in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 542, in addition to the two original counts. The Government then obtained a voluntary dismissal of the original conspiracy count and two of the false statement counts. Respondents moved to dismiss the remaining counts on the ground that the superseding indictment manifested prosecutorial vindictiveness, and therefore ran afoul of the rule announced in Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U.S. 21 (1974). The District Court denied respondents' motion, but stayed the commencement of trial to permit an appeal. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held

that the denial of a motion to dismiss based on the ground of vindictive prosecution is immediately appealable as a final decision under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

646 F.2d 384, 386 (1981).1 In reaching this holding, the Court of Appeals relied on its prior decisions in United States v. Burt, 619 F.2d 831 (1980), and United States v. Griffin, 617 F.2d 1342, cert. denied, 449 U.S. 863 (1980). Reaching the merits, the court held that respondents had established a case of prosecutorial vindictiveness requiring dismissal of the superseding indictment. The United States then sought review in this Court.

We do not reach the question of prosecutorial vindictiveness, for we hold that the Court of Appeals was without jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 to review the District Court's interlocutory order refusing to dismiss the indictment. Congress has limited the jurisdiction of the Courts of Appeals to "final decisions of the district courts."

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28 U.S.C. § 1291. This Court has long held that the policy of Congress embodied in this statute is inimical to piecemeal appellate review of trial court decisions which do not terminate the litigation, and that this policy is at its strongest in the field of criminal law:

The general principle of federal appellate jurisdiction, derived from the common law and enacted by the First Congress, requires that review of nisi prius proceedings await their termination by final judgment. . . . This insistence on finality and prohibition of piecemeal review discourage undue litigiousness and leaden-footed administration of justice, particularly damaging to the conduct of criminal cases. See Cobbledick v. United States, 309 U.S. 323, 324-326.

DiBella v. United States, 369 U.S. 121, 124 (1962). This Court has interpreted the jurisdictional statute to permit departures from the rule of finality in only a limited category of cases falling within the "collateral order" exception delineated in Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541, 545-547 (1949). Such orders

must conclusively determine the disputed question, resolve an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action, and be effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment.

Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U.S. 463, 468 (1978). In criminal cases, we have adhered to the collateral order exception to the rule of finality on three occasions: present in each of these cases were factors noticeably lacking in the instant appeal.

In Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1 (1951), the Court held that an order denying a motion to reduce bail could be reviewed before trial. Writing separately, Justice Jackson (the author of Cohen) recognized that

an order fixing bail can be reviewed without halting the main trial -- its issues are entirely independent of the issues to be tried -- and unless it can be reviewed before sentence, it never can be reviewed at all.

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342 U.S. at 12. In Abney v. United States, 431 U.S. 651 (1977), we permitted interlocutory appeal of an order denying a pretrial motion to dismiss an indictment on double jeopardy grounds. Perhaps most important among the relevant factors, we recognized that

the rights conferred on a criminal accused by the Double Jeopardy Clause would be significantly undermined if appellate review of double jeopardy claims were postponed until after conviction and sentence.

Id. at 660. One right guaranteed by the Double Jeopardy Clause was the right not to be tried twice...

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