Flanagan v. United States

RESPONDENT:United States
LOCATION:Men’s Central Jail

DOCKET NO.: 82-374
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 465 US 259 (1984)
ARGUED: Nov 30, 1983
DECIDED: Feb 21, 1984

Mr. Andrew L. Frey – on behalf of the Respondent
Edward H. Rubenstone – on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for Flanagan v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 30, 1983 in Flanagan v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 21, 1984 in Flanagan v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinion of the Court in Flanagan against the United States will be announced by Justice O’Connor.

Sandra Day O’Connor:

This case comes to us on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The petitioners, four Philadelphia police officers, were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to deprive citizens of their civil rights and for committing substantive civil rights offenses.

The petitioners had retained a certain law firm to act as their joint counsel.

The Government moved to disqualify the law firm from its multiple representations and the District Court granted the motion.

The Court of Appeals affirmed after noting that it had jurisdiction under Section 1291 of Title 28 of the United States Code because the disqualification order was appealable prior to trial as a collateral order.

In an opinion filed today, we reverse that holding and hold that the disqualification order was not immediately appealable under Section 1291, and hence the Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction to review the order prior to entry of final judgment in the case.

There is a strong policy against piecemeal appellate review of trial court orders and decisions made before the final termination of a criminal case in the trial court.

The order of disqualification of counsel does not fall within the collateral order exception to the final judgment rule.

Our opinion is unanimous.