Levine v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: District Court for the District Court of Columbia

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 362 US 610 (1960)
ARGUED: Mar 22, 1960
DECIDED: May 23, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for Levine v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1960 (Part 2) in Levine v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1960 (Part 1) in Levine v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 164, Morry Levine, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Shapiro.

Myron L. Shapiro:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This is certiorari to review the petitioner's conviction in the Southern District of New York for criminal contempt in refusing to answer certain questions before a district judge in a grand jury.

This is a companion case Emanuel Brown versus the United States decided by this Court at its last term and as a matter of fact, Mr. Brown and Mr. Levine are business partners.

The issue in this case is one which was not considered in the Brown case and that is the effect of the secrecy of the proceedings in which Levine was found guilty and convicted of criminal contempt by the district judge.

The issue is whether in such a proceeding has approved by this Court in Brown versus United States held in secret, the district judge can summarily, without trial or hearing, convict the man -- convict the grand jury witness of criminal contempt.

As in Brown, the petitioner here --

William O. Douglas:

Is that the one difference between this and Brown, the -- the secrecy?

Myron L. Shapiro:

In fact, the one factual difference, Mr. Justice Douglas, is the fact that the record in this case unlike Brown is clear that on the second time when the petitioner was brought down to the District Courtroom before the district judge by the Assistant of United States Attorney with the grand jury there, the courtroom was cleared at the direction of the Court and remained cleared throughout the proceeding until the petitioner was admitted to bail after sentence.

Mr .Justice Stewart:

This was a limited grant of certiorari, wasn't it?

Myron L. Shapiro:

That's right, Mr. Justice Stewart, it was limited to -- to these two questions which are -- which appear in my -- in my brief at page 2, the two questions presented and on which certiorari was allowed.

As in Brown, the petitioner appeared before the April 1957, regular grand jury in the Southern District pursuant to a subpoena which stated that it was investigation under the Motor Carrier Act.

His counsel was present while he was in the grand jury room.

He refused to answer the same six questions as Brown on the ground of possible self-incrimination.

Brown had already been convicted.

The petitioner was brought down before the District Judge Levet in room 318 of criminal part of the Southern District Court.

And there, the hearing was had on his obligation to answer the questions whether the immunity statute applied or not.

And the district judge directed the petitioner to answer the six questions.

This was on a Friday.

He was directed to -- directed to appear on Monday at 11:30 before the grand jury and to answer the questions.

He appeared on the Monday at 11:30 with his counsel, counsel was in the anteroom while he was before the grand jury.

And their petitioner refused to answer the questions on the ground of possible self-incrimination.

The petitioner and his counsel were then directed to proceed to the courtroom of District Judge Levet.

When counsel -- when petitioner and counsel arrived there along with the grand jury and the Assistant U.S. Attorney, the district judge directed that the courtroom be cleared which was done and the record notes that.

On page 30 of the record, it is clear and the Government does not, in this case, disagree with the statement that the courtroom was cleared and that it continued cleared throughout the entire proceeding.

Proceedings then occurred as they did in the Brown case with petitioner's counsel requesting that notice and specification of charges and hearing in accordance with due process and Rule 42 (b) be have.

I will not refer to other matters that were raised as they are not within the petition -- within the grant of certiorari here.

Then the grand jury stenographer was put on the stand and testified as to what had happened in the grand jury room, that is the refusal of the petitioner to answer the six questions.

The district judge, over the objection of counsel, directed that -- then directed that the petitioner take the stand.