Pugach v. Dollinger, No. 306

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtLUMBARD, , and CLARK, WATERMAN, MOORE and FRIENDLY, Circuit
Citation277 F.2d 739
PartiesBurton N. PUGACH, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Honorable Isidore DOLLINGER, District Attorney of Bronx County, and Honorable Stephen P. Kennedy, Police Commissioner of the City of New York, Respondents-Appellees. John O'ROURKE, Joseph De Grandis, Frank De Forte, Ernest Zundel, Herbert Jacob, Eugene Jacob, Lawrence Gallo, Joseph Gallo, Norman J. Clark, Jr., Charles De Forte, Anthony Pafumi, also known as Angelo Pafumi, Kenneth Ciazza, Pasquale Catroppa, Phillip Losquadro and Vincent Losquadro, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Manuel W. LEVINE, individually, and as District Attorney of Nassau County, State of New York, and John M. Beckmann, individually, and as Commissioner of Police of Nassau County, State of New York, Defendants-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 306,Dockets 26116,26147.,307
Decision Date14 April 1960

277 F.2d 739 (1960)

Burton N. PUGACH, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Honorable Isidore DOLLINGER, District Attorney of Bronx County, and Honorable Stephen P. Kennedy, Police Commissioner of the City of New York, Respondents-Appellees.

John O'ROURKE, Joseph De Grandis, Frank De Forte, Ernest Zundel, Herbert Jacob, Eugene Jacob, Lawrence Gallo, Joseph Gallo, Norman J. Clark, Jr., Charles De Forte, Anthony Pafumi, also known as Angelo Pafumi, Kenneth Ciazza, Pasquale Catroppa, Phillip Losquadro and Vincent Losquadro, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Manuel W. LEVINE, individually, and as District Attorney of Nassau County, State of New York, and John M. Beckmann, individually, and as Commissioner of Police of Nassau County, State of New York, Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 306, 307, Dockets 26116, 26147.

United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit.

Argued March 8, 1960.

Decided April 14, 1960.


277 F.2d 740

Herbert S. Siegal and Louis Fusco, Jr., New York City, for appellant Burton N. Pugach.

Arthur Karger, New York City (Zoloto & Karger, Jacques M. Schiffer, New York City, Price & Iovine and Leo Healy, Brooklyn, N. Y., on the brief), for appellants John O'Rourke et al.

Emanuel Redfield, New York City, for the New York Civil Liberties Union, amicus curiae.

Irving Anolik, Asst. Dist. Atty., New York City (Isidore Dollinger, Dist. Atty., and Walter E. Dillon, Asst. Dist. Atty., New York City, on the brief), for appellees Isidore Dollinger and Stephen P. Kennedy.

Henry P. Devine, Asst. Dist. Atty., Nassau County (Manuel W. Levine, Dist. Atty., Port Washington, N. Y., on the brief), for appellees Manuel W. Levine and John M. Beckmann.

Louis J. Lefkowitz, Atty. Gen., State of New York, Samuel A. Hirshowitz, First Asst. Atty. Gen., George K. Bernstein, Asst. Atty. Gen. and Vincent A. Marsicano, Asst. Atty. Gen., amicus curiae.

Before LUMBARD, Chief Judge, and CLARK, WATERMAN, MOORE and FRIENDLY, Circuit Judges.

LUMBARD, Chief Judge.

The question for decision is whether a federal court should enjoin state officers from divulging wiretap evidence in a state criminal trial, when introduction of this evidence will constitute the violation of a federal criminal statute. In the two cases before us Judges Bryan and Rayfiel both refused to grant injunctive relief, and we affirm their judgments.

In No. 306, Pugach v. Dollinger, appellant and several others were indicted in November 1959 by the State of New York for burglary in the second degree, maiming, assault in the second degree and conspiracy. Their case was set for trial on January 7, 1960. About two weeks before the trial was to begin appellant brought this suit in the Southern District of New York to enjoin the Bronx County District Attorney, the New York City Police Commissioner and their agents from making use at the state trial of evidence obtained by tapping appellant's telephone wires in June 1959 and of evidence obtained by the use of information overheard in the course of the tapping. The complaint alleged that, although the wiretap was obtained pursuant to state court authorization and in accordance with a state statute, its divulgence would constitute a violation of § 605 of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C.A. § 605. It further stated that wiretap evidence had been introduced before the grand jury in obtaining appellant's indictment and that the district attorney intended to make use of such evidence at trial. The district attorney has not denied that he expects to use wiretap evidence, nor does he contest appellant's allegations that appellant will be subject to irreparable injury if convicted by means of such evidence. Judge Bryan, relying primarily upon Stefanelli v. Minard, 1951, 342 U.S. 117, 72 S.Ct. 118, 96 L.Ed. 138, declined to grant a preliminary injunction and dismissed the complaint. Pugach v. Sullivan, D.C.S.D.N.Y.1960, 180 F.Supp. 66. Upon motion by appellant, this court stayed introduction of the wiretap evidence, pending determination of the appeal.1

277 F.2d 741

In No. 307, O'Rourke v. Levine, appellants are presently on trial in the Nassau County Court on an indictment charging them with conspiracy, extortion, attempted extortion and coercion. The selection of jurors began on February 1, 1960 and the taking of testimony started a week later. Suit in the Eastern District of New York to enjoin the introduction of wiretap evidence was commenced on February 16, 1960. The allegations of the appellants' bill are substantially the same as those in the Pugach case, though in O'Rourke the district attorney has stated on the record in the state court trial his intention to make use of wiretap evidence. Judge Rayfiel denied a preliminary injunction, distinguishing the grant of the stay pending appeal in Pugach on the ground that much greater disruption of the state court proceeding would result were the introduction of evidence in a trial already in progress enjoined. Both this court and subsequently Mr. Justice Harlan of the Supreme Court, 80 S.Ct. 623, declined to stay the introduction of the wiretap evidence pending appeal.

We convened an en banc session of the court to hear these appeals.

The jurisdiction of the district courts was properly founded upon § 1337 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C., which states that "the district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action or proceeding arising under any Act of Congress regulating commerce * * *" The Communications Act of 1934 is an "Act of Congress regulating commerce." See Benanti v. United States, 1957, 355 U.S. 96, 104-105, 78 S.Ct. 155, 2 L.Ed. 2d 126; cf. Mulford v. Smith, 1939, 307 U.S. 38, 46, 59 S.Ct. 648, 83 L.Ed. 1092. Since the asserted right to relief is based upon § 605 of the Communications Act, a suit to protect the federal right against impairment by state officers is a suit "arising under" the federal statute. American Federation of Labor v. Watson, 1946, 327 U.S. 582, 590-591, 66 S.Ct. 761, 90 L.Ed. 873.2

Section 605 of the Communications Act states in pertinent part: "* * * no person not being authorized by the sender shall intercept any communication and divulge the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect or meaning of such intercepted communication to any person * * *" In Nardone v. United States, 1937, 302 U.S. 379, 58 S.Ct. 275, 82 L.Ed. 314 and 1939, 308 U.S. 338, 60 S.Ct. 266, 84 L.Ed. 307, the Supreme Court held that under § 605 evidence obtained from wiretapping by federal officers was inadmissible in a federal court. In Schwartz v. State of Texas, 1952, 344 U.S. 199, 73 S.Ct. 232, 97 L.Ed. 231, upon direct review of a state criminal conviction it was held that the use of the same kind of evidence obtained by state officers was not prohibited by § 605. The Court stated that it would not presume, in the absence of any clear manifestation of intent, that Congress intended to supersede a state rule of evidence permitting the introduction of evidence obtained by state officers and divulged in violation of a federal statute.

277 F.2d 742
Two years ago, in Benanti v. United States, supra, the Court held that wiretap evidence obtained by state officers was not admissible in a federal court, although the evidence was procured in accordance with a New York state statute authorizing wiretapping pursuant to court order.3 The Court reasoned that under § 605 Congress intended to exclude from use in the federal courts evidence the divulgence of which would be unlawful, regardless of its source. Though the Court made clear that tapping coupled with divulgence was a violation of § 605, even when done pursuant to state law, it carefully distinguished the decision in Schwartz v. State of Texas, supra.4

Appellants contend that we should enjoin the defendants from introducing wiretap evidence in the state court trials, since the divulgence of this evidence will violate § 605. They contend that if we do not intervene, they will be subject to irreparable injury, because, if the evidence is introduced and they are found guilty their convictions will not be subject to reversal on appeal either under New York law, see People v. Variano, 1959, 5 N.Y.2d 391, 185 N.Y.S.2d 1, 157 N.E.2d 857, or federal law, Schwartz v. State of Texas, supra.

The exercise of the power of a federal court to grant equitable relief is a matter of discretion. In each case the court must balance the factors for and against the use of its power. See Douglas v. City of Jeannette, 1943, 319 U.S. 157, 63 S.Ct. 877, 87 L.Ed. 1324. Here we think that the district courts properly concluded that the balance weighs against the exercise of the power to grant injunctive relief. We agree that in the circumstances of these two cases a federal court should not intervene in criminal prosecution by a state for violation of its criminal laws. See Voci v. Storb, 3 Cir., 1956, 235 F.2d 48.

Both Congress and the Supreme Court have often indicated their concern for the preservation of the balance between the states' administration of their laws and the use of federal equity power by restriction or withholding of the power of the federal courts. See, e. g., 28 U.S.C. §§ 1342, 2283; Stefanelli v. Minard, supra; Watson v.

277 F.2d 743
Buck, 1941, 313 U.S. 387, 61 S.Ct. 962, 85 L.Ed. 1416; State of Maryland v. Soper, 270 U.S. 9, 46 S.Ct. 185, 70 L.Ed. 449; Id., 270 U.S. 36, 46 S.Ct. 192, 70 L.Ed. 459, and 1926, 270 U.S. 44, 46 S. Ct. 194, 70 L.Ed. 462. Moreover, Congress, in § 501 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C.A. § 501, has provided that violation of § 605 shall be a misdemeanor,5 and we have held that § 605 creates a civil action for damages in favor of one whose line is tapped. Reitmeister v. Reitmeister, 2 Cir., 1947, 162 F.2d 691. Finally, we cannot overlook the long recognized principle of equity, based upon the policy of preserving the right to jury trial, that a court should not enjoin the commission of a crime. With these factors in mind, we do not think that a federal court should interfere with...

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56 practice notes
  • Walters v. Moore-McCormack Lines, Inc., No. 15
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 14, 1963
    ...29. Decided November 12, 1959. Involved availability of interlocutory appeal. No Supreme Court action. 10. Pugach v. Dollinger, 2 Cir., 277 F.2d 739. Decided April 14, 1960. Involved power of federal court to enjoin state officials from divulging wiretap evidence in state criminal trials. A......
  • Ivy Broadcasting Co. v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., No. 305
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • February 13, 1968
    ...Act of 391 F.2d 494 1934 is an "Act of Congress regulating commerce" within the meaning of that section. Pugach v. Dollinger, 277 F.2d 739, 741 (2 Cir. 1960), aff'd per curiam, 365 U.S. 458, 81 S.Ct. 650, 5 L.Ed.2d 678 (1961). Since we conclude that the counterclaims arise under the Communi......
  • Baines v. City of Danville, No. 9080-9084
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 10, 1964
    ...U.S. 36, 46 S.Ct. 192, 70 L.Ed. 459; Maryland v. Soper, 270 U.S. 44, 46 S.Ct. 194, 70 L.Ed. 462. 11 See also Pugach v. Dollinger, 2 Cir., 277 F.2d 739, affirmed 365 U.S. 458, 81 S.Ct. 650, 5 L.Ed.2d 678. There, the Court refused to enjoin the use of wire tap evidence in a state trial, thoug......
  • Guido v. City of Schenectady, No. 30
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • November 25, 1968
    ...valid state law at the time of Guido's conviction.2 In Pugach v. Dollinger, 365 U.S. 458, 81 S.Ct. 650, 5 L.Ed. 2d 678 (1961), affirming 277 F.2d 739 (2d Cir. 1960), the Court held, on the basis of Schwartz, that a federal court would not enjoin the use in state criminal proceedings of wire......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
56 cases
  • Walters v. Moore-McCormack Lines, Inc., No. 15
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 14, 1963
    ...29. Decided November 12, 1959. Involved availability of interlocutory appeal. No Supreme Court action. 10. Pugach v. Dollinger, 2 Cir., 277 F.2d 739. Decided April 14, 1960. Involved power of federal court to enjoin state officials from divulging wiretap evidence in state criminal trials. A......
  • Ivy Broadcasting Co. v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., No. 305
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • February 13, 1968
    ...Act of 391 F.2d 494 1934 is an "Act of Congress regulating commerce" within the meaning of that section. Pugach v. Dollinger, 277 F.2d 739, 741 (2 Cir. 1960), aff'd per curiam, 365 U.S. 458, 81 S.Ct. 650, 5 L.Ed.2d 678 (1961). Since we conclude that the counterclaims arise under the Communi......
  • Baines v. City of Danville, No. 9080-9084
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 10, 1964
    ...U.S. 36, 46 S.Ct. 192, 70 L.Ed. 459; Maryland v. Soper, 270 U.S. 44, 46 S.Ct. 194, 70 L.Ed. 462. 11 See also Pugach v. Dollinger, 2 Cir., 277 F.2d 739, affirmed 365 U.S. 458, 81 S.Ct. 650, 5 L.Ed.2d 678. There, the Court refused to enjoin the use of wire tap evidence in a state trial, thoug......
  • Guido v. City of Schenectady, No. 30
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • November 25, 1968
    ...valid state law at the time of Guido's conviction.2 In Pugach v. Dollinger, 365 U.S. 458, 81 S.Ct. 650, 5 L.Ed. 2d 678 (1961), affirming 277 F.2d 739 (2d Cir. 1960), the Court held, on the basis of Schwartz, that a federal court would not enjoin the use in state criminal proceedings of wire......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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