United States v. Bisceglia

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: 169th Judicial District Court of Texas

DOCKET NO.: 73-1245
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 420 US 141 (1975)
ARGUED: Nov 11, 1974 / Nov 12, 1974
DECIDED: Feb 19, 1975

Stuart A. Smith - for petitioners
William A. Watson - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Bisceglia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 11, 1974 in United States v. Bisceglia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 12, 1974 in United States v. Bisceglia

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll resume arguments.

Mr. Smith, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Stuart A. Smith:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

When the Court adjourned yesterday, I have set forth the facts of this case which are essentially that Internal Revenue Service summons was served upon respondent an officer of the bank in order to determine the identity of the depositor or transferor of some 400 $100 bills that were in seriously deteriorated condition.

Summons was drawn in the matter of the tax liability of “John Doe” because the identity of the depositor was what the Internal Revenue Service wanted to ascertain.

Now, respondent refused to comply and after a hearing held in the United States District Court brought by the Government

.The District Court narrowed the summons to require production of all cash deposit tickets equaling $20,000 during a one month period, October 16, 1970 to November 16, 1970 since the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleve -- in Cincinnati had received this cash on November 6 by ticket and 10 or 15 days later and also --

William H. Rehnquist:

You said deposit tickets equaling $20,000.

Do you mean deposit the tickets in which the single amount of $20,000 would have been indicated as having been deposited?

Stuart A. Smith:

Yes, that was one part of the order.

The second part of the order involved the production of the deposit tickets of cash equal to an excessive $5,000.

The District Court felt that in that way by narrowing the summons in that regard the identity of the depositor could be ascertained with the minimum of disruption to the bank.

Now, respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit which reversed and it’s the correctness of that statutory ruling which is involved in this case.

The Court of Appeals held that the Internal Revenue Service has no statutory authority.

The issue of summons before it has discovered the identity of the particular person it wishes to investigate.

I think before I discussed the statutes in some detail, I think it’s important to state at the outset what this case does not involve.

This case does not involve any application of a constitutional protection to the production of records by the bank.

I think that the Court’s decision last term in California Bankers Association has made clear that there is no claim of privilege against self-incrimination which would be applicable by the bank.

Its officers or in behalf of these unknown taxpayers who may be incriminated by the records sought by the summons.

These are third party records which are not protected.

So the case therefore presents a statutory question, the narrow focus of which is upon two provisions of the Internal Revenue Code which are presently set forth at Section 7601 and Section 7602 of the Code.

There set forth on pages 2 and 3 --

Warren E. Burger:

7601 or 7801?

Stuart A. Smith:

7601 of the Code.

There set forth in pages 2 and 3 of our brief under the caption statutes involved.

Now, these statutes, we submit our cast in the broadest possible terms.

Section 7601 admonishes the Secretary of the Treasury has delegate here the Commission of Internal Revenue to proceed from time to time through each Internal Revenue District and inquire after and concerning all persons therein who be may be liable to pay any Internal Revenue tax.

Section 7602, which affords the service to summons power designed to implement this canvass power in Section 7601 also is cast in broad terms.

And that these two statutes which the Court recognized in the Donaldson case to be both closely related and rooted in statutes enacted more than a century ago which we believe provide the statutory power for the Internal Revenue Service.

The issue was summons like this, --