Hale v. Henkel
United States Supreme Court
HALE v. HENKEL
Argued: January 4, 5, 1906. --- Decided: March 12, 1906
This was an appeal from a final order of the circuit court, made June 18, 1905, dismissing a writ of habeas corpus, and remanding the petitioner, Hale, to the custody of the marshal.
The proceeding originated in a subpoena duces tecum, issued April 28, 1905, commanding Hale to appear before the grand jury at a time and place named, to 'testify and give evidence in a certain action now pending . . . in the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of New York, between the United States of America and the American Tobacco Company and MacAndrews & Forbes Company, on the part of the United States, and that you bring with you and produce at the time and place aforesaid:'
1. All understandings, agreements, arrangements, or contracts, whether evidenced by correspondence, memoranda, formal agreements, or other writings, between MacAndrews & Forbes Company and six other firms and corporations named, from the date of the organization of the said MacAndrews & Forbes Company.
2. All correspondence by letter or telegram between MacAndrews & Forbes Company and six other firms and corporations.
3. All reports made or accounts rendered by these six companies or corporations to the principal company.
4. Any agreements or contracts, or arrangements, however evidenced, between MacAndrews & Forbes Company and the Amsterdam Supply Company or the American Tobacco Company or the Continental Company or the Consolidated Tobacco Company.
5. All letters received by the MacAndrews & Forbes Company since the date of its organization from thirteen other companies named, located in different parts of the United States, and also copies of all correspondence with such companies.
Petitioner appeared before the grand jury in obedience to the subpoena, and, before being sworn, asked to be advised of the nature of the investigation in which he had been summoned; whether under any statute of the United States, and the specific charge, if any had been made, in order that he might learn whether or not the grand jury had any lawful right to make the inquiry, and also that he be furnished with a copy of the complaint, information, or proposed indictment upon which they were acting; that he had been informed that there was no action pending in the circuit court, as stated in the subpoena, and that the grand jury was investigating no specific charge against anyone, and he therefore declined to answer: First, because there was no legal warrant for his examination, and, second, because his answers might tend to incriminate him.
After stating his name, residence, and the fact that he was secretary and treasurer of the MacAndrews & Forbes Company, he declined to answer all other questions in regard to the business of the company, its officers, the location of its office, or its agreement or arrangements with other companies. He was thereupon advised by the assistant district attorney that this was a proceeding under the Sherman act to protect trade and commerce against unlawful restraint and monopolies; that, under the act of 1903, amendatory thereof, no person could be prosecuted or subjected to any penalty or forfeiture on account of any matter or thing concerning which he might testify or produce documentary evidence in any prosecution under said act, and that he thereby offered and assured appellant immunity from punishment. The witness still persisted in his refusal to answer all questions. He also declined to produce the papers and documents called for in the subpoena:
First. Because it would have been a physical impossibility to have gotten them together within the time allowed.
Second. Because he was advised by counsel that he was under no legal obligations to produce anything called for by the subpoena.
Third. Because they might tend to incriminate him.
Whereupon the grand jury reported the matter to the court, and made a presentment that Hale was in contempt, and that the proper proceedings should be taken. Thereupon all the parties appeared before the circuit judge, who directed the witness to answer the questions and produce the papers. Appellant still persisting in his refusal, the circuit judge held him to be in contempt, and committed him to the custody of the marshal until he should answer the questions and produce the papers. A writ of habeas corpus was thereupon sued out, and a hearing had before another judge of the same court, who discharged the writ and remanded the petitioner.
Mr. Justice Brown delivered the opinion of the court: