Young v. United States ex rel. Vuitton et Fils S. A.

PETITIONER: Young
RESPONDENT: United States ex rel. Vuitton et Fils S. A.
LOCATION: Harris County Courthouse

DOCKET NO.: 85-1329
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 481 US 787 (1987)
ARGUED: Jan 13, 1987
DECIDED: May 26, 1987

ADVOCATES:
J. Joseph Bainton - on behalf of Respondents
James A. Cohen - on behalf of the Petitioners
William C. Bryson - as amicus curiae in support of Petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Young v. United States ex rel. Vuitton et Fils S. A.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 13, 1987 in Young v. United States ex rel. Vuitton et Fils S. A.

William H. Rehnquist:

We will hear argument now in No. 85-1329, Young versus United States, consolidated with 85-6207, Klayminc against the United States, et cetera.

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

James A. Cohen:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The issue in this case is whether a person charged with a serious criminal contempt has a right to be investigated and prosecuted by a disinterested prosecutor; more specifically, a prosecutor who is not concurrently representing the interests of the United States and the interests of a private party.

In 1978 Vuitton sued the claimants, who are among the petitioners here, for trademark infringement.

In July of 1970... excuse me, in July of 1982, that matter was settled with a promise on the part of the defendants in the action to pay $100,000, and the issuance of an injunction which was designed to protect Vuitton's trademark rights.

That injunction prohibited, among other things, the manufacture or sale, offering to sell, and aiding and abetting such an offer.

The issue... the injunction was issued in July of 1982.

And in December of 1982, Sol Klayminc sued Mr. Bainton, Joseph Bainton, who was the lawyer for Vuitton in the underlying trademark infringement injunction, for defamation.

The source of the alleged defamation was an article which was published in the Wall Street Journal in December of 1982, and at the same time that the suit began, or approximately the same time, payment on the $100,000 settlement was stopped.

0 xxx.

James A. Cohen:

The defamation action was discontinued subsequent to the convictions in this case.

In February of 1983, the sting in this matter began.

The sting covered a wide number of topics, and by the end of March, Mr. Bainton felt, apparently, that he had sufficient information to apply to the court to be appointed as special prosecutor pursuant to Rule 42(b), as well as applied to the court for some extraordinary authority to conduct the sting.

Antonin Scalia:

Now, he could have done that whether or not he was later appointed by the court, right?

I mean--

James A. Cohen:

Well, I think the answer--

Antonin Scalia:

--You can have a freelance private stinger if he wants to go out and set it up.

James A. Cohen:

--Well, except that it was apparently Mr. Bainton's intention to supervise that.

And ethical prohibitions would prohibit him from taping meetings without the consent of all the parties.

Antonin Scalia:

All right, except for the... well, but all of this was done before any appointment by the court; is that right?

James A. Cohen:

All of which was done?

Antonin Scalia:

What you've just referred to, the beginning of the sting operation.

James A. Cohen:

Yes, the sting had begun, and there was no taping prior to the application--

Antonin Scalia:

That's right.

James A. Cohen:

--to be appointed as special prosecutor.

Antonin Scalia:

So all of that could have been done whether... whether or not he was later appointed by the court, right?

James A. Cohen:

Without taping, yes.

Antonin Scalia:

Okay.