781 F.2d 64 (6th Cir. 1986), 85-5127, In re Grand Jury Subpoena Duces Tecum Served Upon Underhill

Docket Nº:UNDERHILL, d/b/a East Side Motors (85-5127, W.D.).
Citation:781 F.2d 64
Case Date:January 13, 1986
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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781 F.2d 64 (6th Cir. 1986)


UNDERHILL, d/b/a East Side Motors (85-5127, W.D.).


Petitioners- Appellees,


UNITED STATES of America, Respondent-Appellant.

Nos. 85-5127, 85-5134.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

January 13, 1986

Argued Oct. 31, 1985.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Feb. 27, 1986.

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Louis DeFalaise, U.S. Atty., Robert Michael Murphy, Lexington, Ky., Ronald E. Meredith, U.S. Atty., Louisville, Ky., David P. Grise, Office of Consumer Litigation, Civil Div., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Leonard Schaitman (Lead), Douglas Letter (argued), U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for the U.S.

Larry G. Bryson (argued), London, Ky., for Massey.

Randall Underhill, pro se.

Gary R. Haverstock (argued), for Underhill.

Before KRUPANSKY and MILBURN, Circuit Judges and HIGGINS, District Judge. [*]

MILBURN, Circuit Judge.

In this consolidated appeal, we are asked to decide whether sole proprietors operating automobile dealerships, who are required by law to maintain and make available to federal officials and to their transferees odometer statements for motor vehicles they buy and sell, are protected by the Fifth Amendment bar against self-incrimination from producing the odometer statements in response to federal grand jury subpoenas. Because in our view the contents, as well as the act of producing the odometer statements, come within the required records exception to the Fifth Amendment, Shapiro v. United States, 335 U.S. 1, 68 S.Ct. 1375, 92 L.Ed. 1787 (1948), we hold the statements must be produced.


In the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act, 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1981 et seq. ("the Act"), Congress banned tampering with or disconnecting odometers and required the Secretary of Transportation to prescribe rules mandating that any person who transfers a motor vehicle give written disclosure to the transferee of the mileage

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registered on the odometer and a notice if the odometer reading is known to be inaccurate. 15 U.S.C. Secs. 1984 and 1988. In order to insure compliance with the Act and to permit its enforcement, Congress also authorized the Secretary to require automobile dealers to maintain records reasonably needed by the Secretary and to permit inspection of those records by designated federal officials. 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1990d(a), (b), and (c)(2). Pursuant to this statutory authority, the Secretary has mandated that automobile dealers retain for four years copies of all odometer statements they issue or receive. 49 C.F.R. Sec. 580.7. These statements must be kept at the dealer's primary place of business in a systematically retrievable order. Id.

In late 1984, the Department of Justice conducted investigations into possible violations of the Act by automobile dealers in Kentucky. During these investigations, the grand jury sitting in the Western District of Kentucky issued a subpoena duces tecum to petitioner Randall Underhill, a sole proprietor doing business as East Side Motors in Murray, Kentucky.

Underhill was called to testify before the grand jury and to bring with him all odometer statements for motor vehicles he bought and sold between June 1, 1981, and June 1, 1982, as well as other required state and federal records. Underhill moved for the district court to quash the subpoena insofar as it required production of the odometer statements, contending that the subpoena required him to make incriminating testimonial communications in violation of his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

In October 1984, as part of the same Justice Department investigations, another sole proprietor automobile dealer, petitioner Ward Massey, d/b/a A.T.V. Leasing in London, Kentucky, was commanded to appear before the grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Kentucky. Massey was asked to bring with him, among other things, handwriting exemplars and odometer statements for motor vehicles bought and sold between April 1, 1984, and September 15, 1984.

When summoned to appear, Massey declined to furnish any of the requested records except the handwriting samples and asked that the subpoena duces tecum be quashed by the supervising district court. He argued that both the contents and the production of the odometer statements were protected by the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

Both district courts quashed the subpoenas duces tecum at issue. The court in the Western District of Kentucky first held that the contents of the odometer statements sought from Underhill were not protected by the Fifth Amendment. The court concluded that the statements themselves fell within the required records exception to the Fifth Amendment. However, the court did hold that the act of producing these nonprotected records was protected by the Fifth Amendment and could not be compelled unless use immunity was given by the government. The court first concluded that requiring production would call for testimonial self-incrimination by Underhill. The court then based its ultimate holding on United States v. Doe, 465 U.S. 605, 104 S.Ct. 1237, 79 L.Ed.2d 552 (1984), wherein the Supreme Court held that the contents of voluntarily kept sole proprietorship records were not protected by the Fifth Amendment, but that their production was protected because that production would require testimonial self-incrimination by the record holder.

The court in the Eastern District of Kentucky quashed the subpoena...

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