Lawn v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

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

CITATION: 355 US 339 (1958)
ARGUED: Oct 14, 1957 / Oct 15, 1957
DECIDED: Jan 13, 1958
GRANTED: Oct 15, 1956

Joseph Leary Delaney - for the petitioners in 10
Milton Pollack - for the petitioner in 9
Roger Fisher - for the respondent

Facts of the case

These are two consolidated cases involving several individuals involved in a tax evasion scheme. The petitioners were indicted and testified before a grand jury without being warned of their constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. For this reason, the district court dismissed the indictment. The appeals court affirmed the dismissal. While the appeal was pending, the United States initiated a new grand jury proceeding and, at a trial by jury, the petitioners were found guilty. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed. The petitioners suspected that prosecutors used privileged information gained in the first indictment to aid in the second proceeding, violating the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.


Did the district court abuse its discretion by denying the petitioners a hearing to determine whether information gathered at the first indictment was used in the second proceeding?

Media for Lawn v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 15, 1957 in Lawn v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 14, 1957 in Lawn v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 9, Howard Lawn, Petitioner versus United States of America.

Mr. Pollack.

Milton Pollack:

May it please the Court, Your Honors.

This is an act -- conspiracy case which was tried in the Second Circuit in 1955.

The trial commenced on January the 10th 1955 and was concluded in March.

Mr. Lloyd P. Stryker was the counsel for the defendant at the trial.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

All of them.

Milton Pollack:

All of them.

Mr. Stryker died during the year 1955 and I was consulted and retained in this matter in January 1956, some four weeks before the case was to be briefed in the Court of Appeals.

An appeal that already been taken by Giglio and Livorsi in case number 10.

That appeal was held suspended until Judge Walsh sentenced Mr. Lawn eight months after the trial in December of 1935.

Then he took an appeal and there had been a stipulation to join the two appeals.

The failure of the lower courts to follow the doctrines announced by this Court some 30 years ago in Berger against the United States is the principal matter on this field.

As Your Honors are fully aware conspiracy cases involve defendants at the center of the conspiracy and sometimes seek the latch on a fringe defendant because of some association which is charged against this fringe defendant.

Lawn is a fringe defendant.

His conviction must have been as much a surprise to the government as it was to the petitioner.

His acts and I have been at pains to go through some 3000 pages of record and to supply this Court with a detailed schedule of each and every page reference in this entire record where the name Lawn is mentioned regardless of a character mentioned.

And I have set forth at page 80 to my principal brief in a schedule form on one page, every single reference that is made to Mr. Lawn in this entire 3000-page record --

Felix Frankfurter:

Which one of these briefs Mr. Pollack?

Milton Pollack:

I beg your pardon sir.

Felix Frankfurter:

Which one of your briefs?

Milton Pollack:

This is the main brief, the first brief that I submitted, it's an 80-page brief.

William O. Douglas:


Milton Pollack:

80, the last page of the entire brief.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Are you –

Harold Burton:


Milton Pollack:

No, no on this dispute,

Felix Frankfurter:

August 20.

Milton Pollack:

The brief is dated --

Felix Frankfurter:

August 20, the filing is --