Illinois v. Abbott & Associates, Inc.

PETITIONER: Illinois
RESPONDENT: Abbott & Associates, Inc.
LOCATION: Dr. Simopoulos’ Clinic

DOCKET NO.: 81-1114
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 460 US 557 (1983)
ARGUED: Nov 29, 1982
DECIDED: Mar 29, 1983

ADVOCATES:
Michael B. Nash - on behalf of the Respondents
Richard G. Wilkins - on behalf of the United States Department of Justice
Thomas M. Genovese - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Illinois v. Abbott & Associates, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 29, 1982 in Illinois v. Abbott & Associates, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 29, 1983 in Illinois v. Abbott & Associates, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion in Illinois against Abbott Associates will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

This case involves a construction of a provision of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

One provision of that statute provides that when the Attorney General of the United States has brought an action under the federal antitrust laws and has reason to believe that a state might have a basis for a similar federal action, he should give notice to the state attorney general.

The state attorney general then by another provision in the statute is authorized to request disclosure to the state of the investigative files of the Federal Government.

In this case, there was a federal grand jury investigation in Illinois of price fixing in the construction trades and the Attorney General gave the appropriate notice to the Illinois Attorney General who then requested access to the grand jury transcripts that the Federal Government had generated in the proceeding.

The statute says that the disclosure should be made to the extent permitted by law.

So when the state attorney general asked for the material the federal enforcement officials said they had to have a court order to get them because it's required by Rule 6(e) of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure.

They said, they had no objection on the merits to disclosure but the procedure had to be followed.

The state attorney general then filed the appropriate petition and the District Judge denied access on the ground that they did not make the showing of need required by the federal rules.

The Court of Appeals affirmed and we granted certiorari to consider whether access should be granted, because other Circuit Courts had rendered conflicting decisions.

We affirm unanimously today the decision of the Court of Appeals because the statute only allows disclosure to the extent permitted by law and as we understand the federal rules and the applicable facts disclosure would not be permitted in this case.

The opinion is unanimous but Justice Brennan has filed a concurring opinion in which Justice O'Connor joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Justice Stevens.