United States v. John Doe, Inc. I

PETITIONER:United States
LOCATION:Florida Department of Labor

DOCKET NO.: 85-1613
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 481 US 102 (1987)
ARGUED: Jan 12, 1987
DECIDED: Apr 21, 1987

Louis R. Cohen – on behalf of Petitioner
Louis R. Cohen – on behalf of petitioner
Paul R. Grand – on behalf of Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. John Doe, Inc. I

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 12, 1987 in United States v. John Doe, Inc. I

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 21, 1987 in United States v. John Doe, Inc. I

William H. Rehnquist:

The two opinions of the Court in No. 85-1613, United States versus John Doe, and No. 85-6790, Granberry versus Greer will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

In the John Doe case, we are presented with two questions involving the Federal Rules and Civil Procedure that govern the secrecy of grand jury material.

After the grand jury had completed its investigation of a possible antitrust violation and had not returned any indictments, the government attorneys in charge of the investigation thought it would be appropriate to bring a civil case, and they obtained a permission from the district judge to disclose some of the materials to lawyers in the civil division.

One of the questions whether it was sufficient particularized need for that disclosure or should they have gone through civil discovery procedures.

The second question is whether a lawyer who participated in the criminal investigation and later is going to work in a civil case, is in effect making an un-permitted disclosure when he continues to use the materials that he already had in his capacity before the grand jury, and the district court, as I say, allowed the disclosure to the Civil Division and also did not find any disclosure violation.

The Court of Appeals however reversed considering that the continued use later on was tantamount to the disclosure and there was not particularized need.

We, in turn, reverse the Court of Appeals holding that the showing was adequate and that continued use does not come within the language of the rule prohibiting to disclosure.

Justice Brennan has filed a dissent joined by Justice Marshall and Justice Blackmun.

Justice White did not participate in the consideration or decision of the case.