Civil Aeronautics Board v. Hermann

PETITIONER: Civil Aeronautics Board
LOCATION: Selma, Alabama

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 353 US 322 (1957)
ARGUED: Apr 25, 1957
DECIDED: May 06, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Civil Aeronautics Board v. Hermann

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 25, 1957 in Civil Aeronautics Board v. Hermann

Earl Warren:

Number 540, Civil Aeronautics Board, Petitioner, versus Ida Mae Hermann, et al.

Mr. Solicitor General.

J. Lee Rankin:

May it please the Court.

This is an action which involves an enforcement proceeding for a subpoena duces tecum issued by an administrative agency, the Civil Aeronautics Board, for a group of documents against the -- a number of respondents.

The question presented by the case is whether or not the agency has the burden of satisfying the District Court in each case, whether each document that is subpoenaed is relevant and material, whether or not it is in possession of the person to whom the subpoena is directed, and whether or not, prior to the issuance of such a subpoena, it must take the testimony in the administrative hearing and determine first the existence and then the location of the documents, and then proceed to inspect the documents to determine their relevancy and materiality.

The subpoena was issued in connection with a complaint, formal complaint, filed against the respondent which involves a number of parties.

The complaint charges that these parties are engaged in violation of Section 401 (a) of the Civil Aeronautics Act.

They are licensed.

Two of them are licensed as irregular and infrequent carriers.

The complaint charges that they are engaged in operating regular and frequent carriage of passengers and freight in violation of the statute.

Also, that they are engaged in using the various response in various activities in connection with this operation which are a violation of both the economic regulations and the statute in trying to accomplish this regular and frequent operation contrary to their license, and also, in using and controlling various corporations and nominees so as to be engaged in violation of the regulations of the Board under the statute.

The parties involved -- the principal parties are Ida Mae Hermann and Irving Hermann.

And they are individuals who have a partnership known as Nevada Aero Trades.

That partnership has the licenses to certain aircraft, and those are least to the carriers known as Great Lakes Airlines and Currie Transport Corporation.

Those are the only two carriers involved.

Then, there are 12 different corporations known as, Skycoach, with various additions to the name but that's the principle attribute which are agencies engaged in various principal cities in the United States in obtaining the sale of tickets for the transfer and carriage of various people from -- principally, from New York to Los Angeles by way of Chicago or Kansas City or Philadelphia, intervening and back the other way.

On pages 36 and 37 of the record, it is set out in detail attached to the complaint, an analysis of the various trips that these carriers made of the Currie Transport being bracketed in -- in a square bracket and the Great Lakes Airlines in a -- in parenthesis showing the frequency that the Board charges that they operated in determining or alleging that they are engaged -- were engaged in irregular -- in frequent and regular transport instead of irregular and infrequent transport.

Now, there were quite a number of documents that were involved in the subpoena.

The charge is that this activity, in violation of the licenses covered a period from December of 1951 on through 1953, about 38 months involved.

And it's claimed that -- and the Board claims that these two parties, the Hermann's, actually controlled Skycoach, all the 12 corporations that were engaged in selling these tickets, as well as the Nevada Trades, the partnership and a banking corporation that they had which furnished the banking services and another which handled their -- their gasoline.

And these 12 Skycoach corporations, the President was the brother of Mrs. Hermann, one of the two partners and the principal respondents.

And Great Lakes Airlines Agency, which served as a banking -- doing the banking function for the activities was head as its vice president of Mrs. Hermann's sister.

So, there's that family connection in regard -- in addition to all of the other aspects.

Now, it was seemed clear that these various documents that were subpoenaed were relevant to this controversy by reason of -- of the very nature of the complaint and the documents who requested it.

The documents that were included were the financial records of all of the various respondents.

The correspondence and agreements between the parties, the aircraft that was used, that in regard to it, the licensing and the -- and leasing and any agreements of that character, the personnel advertising material, personal records, the airline tickets which they are always -- they're supposed to be issued three copies, one for the auditor and one for the ticket agency, and one for the carrier, and there is probably several thousand at least documents that are involved in the request.

Now, it's apparent that in order to -- to show the nature of the complaint and satisfy the proof required that the agency had to show that this activity which was carried on with -- as alleged deliberately and willfully in violation, and also allege was concealed from the Board had to be proved by records which would be largely in the hands of the respondents themselves.

And odds complained that the Board had it in its possession the records so that it was not necessary for it to subpoena these documents.

The Government concedes as to such records as the Board actually had that there would be no necessity for such a subpoena to be issued, or that the Court would be required to enforce it.

But the fact is and I -- I have been advised by the Board that they did not have these records.