Douglas Oil Company of California v. Petrol Stops Northwest

PETITIONER: Douglas Oil Company of California
RESPONDENT: Petrol Stops Northwest
LOCATION: Trial Court

DOCKET NO.: 77-1547
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 441 US 211 (1979)
ARGUED: Dec 05, 1978
DECIDED: Apr 18, 1979

ADVOCATES:
Daniel L. Berman - for private respondents
Jistice Marshall -
Max L. Gillam, Jr. - for petitioners
Sara S. Beale - for respondent U

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Douglas Oil Company of California v. Petrol Stops Northwest

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 05, 1978 in Douglas Oil Company of California v. Petrol Stops Northwest

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 18, 1979 in Douglas Oil Company of California v. Petrol Stops Northwest

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Justice Powell has two opinions in the Court to announce.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

The first of these, 77-1547, Douglas Oil against Petrol Stops is a case here on certiorari from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

It involves a question as to when and by whom transcripts of the grand jury investigation maybe made available to parties in a collateral civil proceedings.

The issue was complicated because the grand jury set in a District Court in Los Angeles and a civil litigation within a District Court in Arizona.

As the defendant in the civil suit had been implicated in the grand jury investigation, it already possessed copies of the transcripts desired by the plaintiff.

The questions presented to the Los Angeles District Court included the broad policy question whether the need for disclosure was greater than the need for grand jury secrecy and also whether the plaintiff in the Arizona case was requesting only those portions of the transcripts that were in fact relevant to that proceedings.

As we think the Arizona court conducting the civil proceedings was in a better position than the Los Angeles court to determine the relevancy and need for the transcripts.

It was error for the latter court to have ordered that delivery.

As this order was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, we now reverse that decision. Our reasons are set forth in the court's opinion filed today with the clerk.

Mr. Justice Rehnquist has filed a concurring opinion.

Mr. Justice Stevens had dissented in an opinion in which the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Stewart have joined.