McPhaul v. United States
364 U.S. 372 (1960)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

McPhaul v. United States, 364 U.S. 372 (1960)

McPhaul v. United States

No. 33

Argued October 13, 1960

Decided November 14, 1960

364 U.S. 372

Syllabus

Petitioner was convicted under 2 U.S.C. § 192 for willful failure to comply with a subpoena of the House of Representatives commanding him to produce before one of its Subcommittees certain records of the Civil Rights Congress. The evidence showed: before issuance of the subpoena, the Subcommittee had reason to believe that the Civil Rights Congress was a subversive organization, and that petitioner was its Executive Secretary. At the hearing, the Chairman of the Subcommittee explained that Detroit is a vital defense area and that the purpose of the hearing was to investigate Communist activities there. When asked whether he would produce the documents called for by the subpoena, petitioner stated flatly that he would not. Neither at the hearing nor at his trial did petitioner deny the existence of the records or his ability to produce them. He based his refusal upon a claim of his privilege under the Fifth Amendment.

Held: the conviction is sustained. Pp. 364 U. S. 373-383.

(a) The Government's proof at the trial established a prima facie case of willful refusal to comply with the subpoena, and, inasmuch as petitioner neither advised the Subcommittee that he was unable to produce the records nor attempted to introduce at his trial any evidence of his inability to produce them, the trial court was justified in concluding and in charging the jury that the records called for by the subpoena were in existence and under petitioner's control at the time the subpoena was served upon him. Pp. 364 U. S. 373-380.

(b) The Fifth Amendment did not excuse petitioner from producing the records, since records held in a representative, rather than in a personal, capacity cannot be the subject of the personal privilege against self-incrimination. P. 364 U. S. 380.

(c) The evidence was sufficient to show that the records called for by the subpoena were pertinent to the inquiry. Pp. 364 U. S. 380-382.

(d) The subpoena was not so broad as to constitute an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Pp. 364 U. S. 382-383.

272 F. 2d 627, affirmed.

Page 364 U. S. 373

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