New York v. O'Neill

LOCATION: Sherry Frontenac

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 359 US 1 (1959)
ARGUED: Nov 20, 1958
DECIDED: Mar 02, 1959

Facts of the case


Media for New York v. O'Neill

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 20, 1958 in New York v. O'Neill

Earl Warren:

-- New York, Petitioner, versus Joseph C. O'Neill.

Mr. Bowen.

Reeves Bowen:

May it please the Court.

The question before this Court in this case is as to whether Section 942.02 Florida Statutes unconstitutionally interferes with the right of ingress and egress of a witness who is subjected to its terms in violation of Article IV, of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2 and the Fourteenth Amendment.

This section is an integral part of a Uniform Act which is called Uniform Act to Secure the Attendance of Witnesses Within or Without a State in Criminal Proceedings.

The section which I was -- the Supreme Court of Florida held to be unconstitutional provides that when a criminal case is pending in a court of record of a State which has an active reciprocal legislation and the judge of that State makes a certificate when it -- a criminal case is pending or a grand jury investigation is either underway or is about to begin.

The judge makes a certificate to that effect and says in that certificate how many days the witness will be required.

They send that certificate down to the State where the witness is, which also has the same law.

And there, a judge of a court of record procures the attendance of the witness before it and he has two options as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Florida and it's a fair interpretation.

The judge, if there is a recommendation in the certificate that the witness be taken into custody and bodily delivered to an officer of the demanding State, the judge of the court there may, if he finds that's a desirable thing to do order such custody and delivery.

But even though the judge does not find in favor of that he may also -- he may issue a subpoena -- I mean a summons directed to the witness commanding him to go to the requesting State and there shall appear as a witness during the time specified in the certificate.

Felix Frankfurter:

Would you be good enough to tell us exactly what happened in the case before us from the beginning of the process or procedures to the culmination?

Reeves Bowen:

Yes, sir.

If I -- there -- there's a debate that was heard, but actually this is what happened.

Mr. O'Neill was a resident of the State of Illinois.

His presence was desired in -- before a New York grand jury which was investigating the disposition of funds of certain union to one of which was the Distillery Rectifying Wine and Allied Workers International Union of America, and Mr. O'Neill, who was the president of that union, he's the chairman of the executive board and he is also the chairman of the welfare fund.

And his testimony -- and the -- and the investigation was -- was aimed at ascertaining whether there had been embezzlement or a conspiracy to embezzle the funds.

His testimony was deemed to be material and necessary and altogether at the question of misappropriation of funds.

Mr. Francis H. Clark, Assistant District Attorney, made an affidavit in which he outlined all of these facts.

He set up in that affidavit that efforts had been made without avail to procure Mr. O'Neill to come before that grand jury, to appear to testify.

It said that he had consistently refused to testify, that he had -- had rejected all of the pleas that have been made to get him to come voluntarily and there was no way to get him there voluntarily.

It was -- it was specified that they needed him for 15 days.

That certificate with Mr. Clark -- I mean the judge in New York --

Felix Frankfurter:

Was there reason given?

Reeves Bowen:


Felix Frankfurter:

Was there a reason given why he was needed for 15 days?

Reeves Bowen:

I don't think that the -- that the -- that there's any detail given about why he was needed for 15 rather than 10 or 20, or any other number.

I don't think --

Felix Frankfurter:

But it was specified that his presence in New York was required for 15 days.

Reeves Bowen:

That -- that is right.