UNITED STATES v. RYAN

91 S. Ct. 1580 (1971) | Cited 373 times | Supreme Court | May 24, 1971

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

In March of 1968, respondent was served with a subpoena duces tecum commanding him to produce before a federal grand jury all books, records, and documents of five named companies doing business in Kenya. He moved, on several grounds, to quash the subpoena. The District Court denied the motion to quash and, in light of respondent's claim that Kenya law forbids the removal

     of books of account, minute books, and lists of members from the country without consent of its Registrar of Companies, ordered him to attempt to secure such consent and, if unsuccessful, to make the records available for inspection in Kenya.1 The Court of Appeals, 430 F.2d 658 (CA9 1970), held that by directing respondent to make application to a Kenyan official for release of some of the records, the District Court had done "more than deny a motion to quash; it in effect granted a mandatory injunction." Id., at 659. The Court of Appeals therefore concluded that the order was appealable under 28 U. S. C. § 1292 (a)(1)2 and, reaching the merits, reversed.

     consistently held that the necessity for expedition in the administration of the criminal law justifies putting one who seeks to resist the production of desired information to a choice between compliance with a trial court's order to produce prior to any review of that order, and resistance to that order with the concomitant possibility of an adjudication of contempt if his claims are rejected on appeal. Cobbledick v. United States, supra; Alexander v. United States, 201 U.S. 117 (1906); cf. United States v. Blue, 384 U.S. 251 (1966); DiBella v. United States, 369 U.S. 121 (1962); Carroll v. United States, 354 U.S. 394 (1957). Only in the limited class of cases where denial of immediate review would render impossible any review whatsoever of an individual's claims have we allowed exceptions to this principle. We have thus indicated that review is available immediately of a denial of a motion for the return of seized property, where there is no criminal prosecution pending against the movant. See DiBella v. United States, supra, at 131-132. Denial of review in such circumstances would mean that the Government might indefinitely retain the property without any opportunity for the movant to assert on appeal his right to possession. Similarly, in Perlman v. United States, 247 U.S., at 12-13, we allowed immediate review of an order directing a third party to produce exhibits which were the property of appellant and, he claimed, immune from production. To have denied review would have left Perlman "powerless to avert the mischief of the order," id., at 13, for the custodian could hardly have been expected to risk a citation for contempt in order to secure Perlman an opportunity for judicial review. In the present case, however, respondent is free to refuse compliance and, as we have noted, in such event he may obtain full review of his claims before undertaking any burden of compliance with the subpoena.

     Perlman, therefore, has no application in the situation before us.

Finally, we do not think that the District Court's order was rendered a temporary injunction appealable under 28 U. S. C. § 1292 (a)(1) by its inclusion of a provision requiring respondent to seek permission from the Kenyan authorities to remove some of the documents from that country, and in the event that permission was denied to permit Government officials access to the documents in Kenya. The subpoena, if valid, placed respondent under a duty to make in good faith all reasonable efforts to comply with it, and respondent himself had asserted that compliance would be in violation of Kenya law unless permission to remove was properly obtained. Read against this background, the District Court's order did nothing more than inform respondent before the event of what efforts the District Court would consider sufficient attempts to comply with the subpoena. We cannot imagine that respondent would be prosecuted for contempt if he produced the documents as required but without attempting to obtain permission from the authorities in Kenya. The additional provisions in the order added nothing to respondent's burden and, if anything, rendered the burden of compliance less onerous. They did not convert denial of a motion to quash into an appealable injunctive order.

Reversed.

Disposition

430 F.2d 658, reversed.

1. The District Court ordered that: "I. The motion of [respondent] to quash the subpoena duces tecum is denied. "II. [Respondent] will produce, with the exception of the books of account, minute books and the list of members, before the Federal grand jury at Los Angeles, California, on September 11, 1968, the books, records, papers and documents of Ryan Investment, Ltd., of Nairobi, Kenya, and Mawingo, Ltd., of Nanyuki and Nairobi, Kenya, doing business as The Mount Kenya Safari Club, referred to in the . . . subpoena duces tecum served on [respondent]. "III. [Respondent] shall forthwith make application to the Registrar of Companies in Kenya to release the books of account, minute books, and list of members so that [respondent] may produce these books, records, papers and documents at the Federal grand jury held at Los Angeles, California, on September 11, 1968, provided that if [respondent] is unable to secure the consent of the Registrar of Companies of Kenya, then [respondent] will make available to agents of the United States Department of Justice and/or the United States Department of the Treasury the books of account, minute books, and list of members, of Ryan Investment, Ltd., and Mawingo, Ltd., and these agents may inspect and make copies of these books and records." App. 63-64.

2. The statute provides, in pertinent part, that: "The courts of appeals shall have jurisdiction of appeals from: (1) Interlocutory orders of the district courts of the United States . . . granting, continuing, modifying, refusing or dissolving injunctions . . . ."

3. In such event, of course, respondent could still object to the introduction of the subpoenaed material or its fruits against him at a criminal trial. United States v. Blue, 384 U.S. 251, 255 (1966).

4. Walker v. Birmingham, 388 U.S. 307 (1967), is not to the contrary. Our holding that the claims there sought to be asserted were not open on review of petitioners' contempt convictions was based upon the availability of review of those claims at an earlier stage.

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