Kilgore Nat. Bank v. Federal Petroleum Board

Citation209 F.2d 557
Decision Date15 January 1954
Docket NumberNo. 14679.,14679.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)


Angus G. Wynne, Dallas, Tex., John D. Glass, Tyler, Tex., Bean & Ford, Kilgore, Tex., Wynne & Wynne, Dallas, Tex., for appellants Kilgore Nat. Bank and W. D. Love.

William M. Steger, U. S. Atty., Tyler, Tex., James R. Lewis, Chairman, Federal Petroleum Board, Kilgore, Tex., for appellee.

Before HUTCHESON, Chief Judge, and HOLMES and RUSSELL, Circuit Judges.

RUSSELL, Circuit Judge.

This appeal is from an order of the trial court directing compliance with a subpoena duces tecum issued by the Federal Petroleum Board to The Kilgore National Bank and its cashier, W. D. Love, calling for bank records of transactions with, and "cancelled checks" of, E. J. Pryor and his wife, said to be in the bank's possession. This was included within a subpoena as set forth below.1

From the verified motion of the Board and the subpoena attached as an exhibit, the trial court was informed that the Board was conducting an investigation into probable violations of the Connally "Hot Oil" Act2 by Pryor and other named parties. Further, that the records sought "were and are deemed and alleged by your Petitioner to be relevant or material to said matters then and there under consideration and investigation by Petitioner;" that the Board had reasonable cause and grounds to believe that the named parties, contrary to specified regulations, had failed to keep accurate records; that an investigation for the purpose of the Act was necessary and appropriate to determine the question of violation "and the records required to be produced by the said subpoena were relevant, material and appropriate to such investigation and will aid in the enforcement of the provisions of the Act."

Love, the cashier, had appeared before the Board and testified but the bank, expressly at the direction of Pryor, declined to produce the records unless, and until, it was so ordered by the court. The bank, wholeheartedly assuming the defense and the assertion of all rights of the Pryors, its customers, by an unverified answer, emphatically denied the claim of relevancy. The Pryors sought to intervene and tendered a proposed answer in which they likewise denied the relevancy of the records and information sought, and asserted that to permit the production of the records and checks would constitute an unreasonable search, violative of their rights under the Fourth Amendment. The trial court denied the motion to intervene. This order is attacked here by the Pryors, and both they and the bank assail the order directing enforcement of the subpoena duces tecum.

From the record, it is crystal clear that the battle lines were laid out, and the fight carried on, around the legal issue of whether the showing of the Board, consisting of the averments of its subpoena and of its motion to the district court for enforcement, furnished a sufficient basis for the court's order when opposed only by the answer of the bank and proposed intervention of the Pryors. The respondents neither introduced nor offered to present any evidence. The case was determined upon the motion papers and the response thereto.

The Federal Petroleum Board has been created and exists by virtue of statutory law3 which evidences clear Legislative intention to vest in it the power of investigating violations, and overseeing enforcement, of the provisions of this statute. To enable such Board to discharge its functions, Congress provided, by adopting, by express reference,4 the provisions of Section 78u of the Securities Exchange Act,5 that:

"For the purpose of any such investigation, or any other proceeding under this chapter, any member of the Commission or any officer designated by it is empowered to administer oaths and affirmations, subpena witnesses, compel their attendance, take evidence, and require the production of any books, papers, correspondence, memoranda, or other records which the Commission deems relevant or material to the inquiry. * * *"

This court has analogized the investigative powers of the Board "to those of a grand jury." Genecov v. Federal Petroleum Board, 5 Cir., 146 F.2d 596. See also Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186, 66 S.Ct. 494, 90 L.Ed. 614; Zinser v. Federal Petroleum Board, 5 Cir., 148 F.2d 993; President of the United States v. Skeen, 5 Cir., 118 F.2d 58, 59.6 It therefore seems clear that the Board's stated finding of relevancy bears at least a prima facie stamp of correctness and is not required to be rejected by the court from which the Board must seek enforcement of its subpoena upon the opposition only of a plead denial.7 When conducting investigations within the limit of its lawfully granted authority, the Board does not occupy the position of a party to litigation and thus come within the axiomatic rule of adversary proceedings, relied upon by appellants, that generally upon the movant rests the burden of sustaining his right to proceed. And in any instance of palpable irrelevancy, or other unduly burdensome condition, the court, of course, need not, and presumptively will not, sustain such a demand.8 The court is fully empowered to protect the citizen from arbitrary and oppressive action. The Board is a public body and as such bears the responsibility which constantly rests upon all authority. It is likewise entitled to the presumption of correctness of acts in the discharge of official duties until the contrary is made to appear. Hence, like the establishment of unlawful, capricious, or arbitrary action claimed to be attempted by virtue of office,9 one who challenges the Board's finding on a question within the scope of its powers which the Congress has authorized it to initially determine, must make a satisfactory showing that the Board has erred before he can claim a right to prevail.

Ordinarily, the question of the right of intervention of parties...

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9 cases
  • FCC v. Schreiber
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • May 4, 1964
    ...under all the circumstances. N. L. R. B. v. Anchor Rome Mills, 5 Cir., supra, 197 F.2d, at page 449; see Kilgore National Bank v. Federal Petroleum Board, 5 Cir., 209 F.2d 557, 560; cf. Chapman v. Maren Elwood College, 9 Cir., 225 F.2d 230, supra; Walling v. American Rolbal Corp., 2 Cir., 1......
  • Federal Communications Commission v. Cohn
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • September 5, 1957
    ...under all the circumstances. N. L. R. B. v. Anchor Rome Mills, 5 Cir., supra, 197 F.2d at page 449; see Kilgore National Bank v. Federal Petroleum Board, 5 Cir., 209 F. 2d 557, 560; cf. Chapman v. Maren Elwood College, 9 Cir., 225 F.2d 230, supra; Walling v. American Rolbal Corp., 2 Cir., 1......
  • United States v. Woerth
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • May 6, 1955
    ...that the information is relevant is entitled to a prima facie stamp of correctness by the Courts. Kilgore Nat. Bank v. Federal Petroleum Board, 5 Cir., 1954, 209 F.2d 557. In Oklahoma Press Publishing Company v. Walling, supra, the Court stated what it thought to be the general rule as esta......
  • Pollard v. Roberts
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Arkansas
    • April 11, 1968
    ...that to produce the records would violate any rights of the Party or of Party members or contributors. Cf. Kilgore National Bank v. Federal Petroleum Board, 5 Cir., 209 F.2d 557. The Supreme Court of Arkansas rejected the contentions of the Bank and held that the Bank would have to produce ......
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