LOCATION: Street Corner
DOCKET NO.: 673
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
CITATION: 392 US 286 (1968)
ARGUED: Apr 30, 1968
DECIDED: Jun 10, 1968
Facts of the case
Media for George Campbell Painting Corporation v. Reid
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 30, 1968 in George Campbell Painting Corporation v. Reid
Number 673, Albert A. Blinder -- no.
It's George Campbell Painting Corporation, appellant versus William Reid et al.
Mr. Blinder, you may proceed with your argument.
Albert A. Blinder:
Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.
This case like the one just argued before it is on appeal from the New York State Court of Appeals from a decision rendered the very same day as Gardner against Broderick.
In its opinion, the New York State Court of Appeals declined that the statute in this case which is Section 2701 of the New York Public Authorities law was constitutional and based its finding upon the decision in Gardner against Broderick.
Now, the statute in question which is also identical with several other statutes in New York such 103 of the municipal law and a section of the finance law, provides similarly that if a person is called before a grand jury concerning a transaction or contracts with -- that states any political subdivision thereof, a public authority or with any public department, agency or official of the state or if any political subdivision thereof or of a public authority and refuses to sign a waiver of immunity or refuses to answer any relevant question then such person or any firm, partnership or corporation of which he is a member, partner, director or officer shall be disqualified for a period of five years from biding on contract or from doing business with the state and also any existing contracts at the time may be cancelled or terminated.
In this situation, we are presented with the question as to whether the Fourteenth Amendment is offended by the public authority's law because of the requirement that a corporation be disqualified when one of its officers or directors asserts or refuses the way the privilege against self-incrimination and as a corollary of that, whether the resignation and surrender of control by such an officer or a director prior to being called before a grand jury, makes automatic application of the statute repugnant to the Due Process Clause.
We also have the question as to whether a direction by statute that all public contracts contain an agreement to waive the privilege against self-incrimination is an unconstitutional condition of doing business with the state.
Now, the facts in this situation are somewhat different than the Gardner against Broderick case previously.
In fact, the appellants which is a corporation was disqualified from doing business with the state for a five year period and its contracts were terminated because one of its former officers have refused to sign a waiver of immunity when subpoenaed before a grand jury.
In fact, the individual in question was the president and a director of the corporation until about three weeks before he was subpoenaed before the grand jury.
While the corporation bears the same name as the individual in question, he is the son of the founder, he was 24 years of age at the time that he was subpoenaed and was not in actual control of the corporation.
He was the (Inaudible) I had because he was the heir of power to his deceased father.
About three weeks after resigning his officers and giving up his stock which was 10% of the outstanding stock of the corporation, he was subpoenaed before a grand jury.
The following day, he appeared, refused to sign a waiver of immunity and the corporation a week later was notified by the New York City housing authority that its contracts were terminated and that the appellants was disqualified.
I might add that before the subpoena was served upon him, the corporation notified the appellees that in fact he had relinquished his officers and was no longer the president and director of the corporation.
When he appeared before this grand jury pursuant to subpoena, he was never asked the question and never refused to make any answers.
In fact, all of the other officers and directors who were subpoenaed before this grand jury, signed waivers of immunity, some were called in to testify and did testify, some were not called in to testify.
Two days after the letter of disqualification was sent out by the City Housing Authority, the appellant corporation requested a hearing as to its disqualification.
That letter was ignored.
Four days later, a telegram was sent by the appellant's corporation also to the City Housing Authority, requesting a hearing.
Two weeks thereafter, a letter was sent by the City Housing Authority to the appellant corporation, advising the corporation that it could not have a hearing and that it need not bother communicating with the housing authority again about this subject.
I'm unable to advice the Court as to the content of the waiver of immunity which was offered to the individual in question.
The grand jury being a secret proceeding, we were not acquainted with its contents.
We assume it was a general waiver of immunity and we have not seen any transcript of testimony concerning the questioning by the assistant district attorney of the individual, asking him to sign the waiver of immunity.
The letter which advised the appellant corporation that it was disqualified said and this is the only way we know it that the grand jury in addition to investigating alleged bid rigging was only investigating bribery of the labor official, extortion, coercion, assault and conspiracy of each of these other things.
Now, our argument of course is based on much of what was discussed in the Gardner argument.
Hugo L. Black:
Who is the order here against?
Albert A. Blinder:
The order of disqualification is against the appellant corporation.