Stevens v. Marks

LOCATION: Antinook Mill

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 383 US 234 (1966)
ARGUED: Jan 24, 1966
DECIDED: Feb 28, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Stevens v. Marks

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 24, 1966 in Stevens v. Marks

Earl Warren:

Number 210, James T. Stevens, Petitioner, versus Charles Marks, Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, County of New York.

Mr. Chief Justice, thank you for accommodating the next (Inaudible)

Earl Warren:

Yes and with the 290, James T. Stevens, Petitioner, versus John J. McCloskey, Sheriff of New York City.

Mr. Schofield, you may proceed with your argument.

John P. Schofield:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Petitioner, James T. Stevens, was a lieutenant with the New York City Police Department prior to a summary discharge on July 15th, 1964 asserting his constitutional privilege.

Stevens had been a member of that department for 18 years and only needed two more years for retirement.

On a morning of June 26, Stevens together with other police officers with summons in the police headquarters and at an office of the deputy chief inspector, they were all handed forthwith subpoenas to appear before the New York County grand jury standing there or sitting some three blocks away.

A superior officer was assigned to accompany these men to that grand jury.

When they arrived there at, they were met by an assistant district attorney who told them, he wished their testimony in the grand jury.

However, he told them before they would be permitted to enter that grand jury they must sign a waiver of immunity.

He stated this was a requirement that the state constitution and the city charter required of each of these men if they wished to stay on the police force.

He reminded them that on a day pervious, ten police officers were summarily dismissed for failure to sign up a waiver.

He also told them at that time, they had a constitutional privilege not to incriminate themselves.

However, Stevens saw fit to sign that waiver of immunity on the advice of the Assistant District Attorney without having any private counsel to advise him.

Stevens went into that grand jury --

He -- did he ask for a (Inaudible)

John P. Schofield:

No, Stevens didn't but several other police officers had.

But Stevens made no mention of requiring a lawyer or ask him for one at that time outside that grand jury.

However, when Stevens went into the grand jury, the Assistant District Attorney who had him sign that waiver outside, now for the first time told Stevens that he was not there as a witness but perhaps as a potential defendant.

He then had Stevens identify himself and state that he had signed this waiver outside and he understood the conditions.

Stevens gave his name, rank, command, home address and then was told by the Assistant District Attorney that he had a financial questionnaire, and he gave it to him and he told him he would be called at a later date before that grand jury.

Stevens was dismissed from that grand jury and it's our contention, he gave no relevant testimonies such there's no question as to what statements were given there except his name, command, etcetera.

Stevens was -- on July 15th, called back again before the New York County grand jury.

However this time, it was a new grand jury that had been specially impaneled to look into the crimes of bribery and corruption within the police department and the Assistant District Attorney told him in my presence, this time he's represented by a counsel that they required Stevens to sign a new waiver of immunity.

Stevens went into the grand jury and then in there, informed the Assistant District Attorney that he did not wish to sign this new waiver of immunity, as a matter of fact, wished to recall the one that was signed on June 26th.

The Assistant District Attorney admonished Stevens by telling that it was a requirement that he must sign this waiver or he would be summarily dismissed from his employment.

After having told them this, he told them that he had a constitutional right to exert -- assert his privilege and he could at any time invoke this privilege.

Stevens of course stated these -- stood on his constitutional rights.

He was dismissed from that grand jury.