United States v. Mechanik
Annotate this Case
475 U.S. 66 (1986)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Mechanik, 475 U.S. 66 (1986)
United States v. Mechanik
Argued December 2, 1985
Decided February 25, 1986*
475 U.S. 66
A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging respondents and cross-petitioners (hereafter defendants) with drug-related offenses and conspiracy, and later returned a superseding indictment expanding the conspiracy charge. Two law enforcement agents testified in tandem before the grand jury in support of the superseding indictment. The defendants did not learn about this until the second week of their trial, when the Government furnished them with a transcript of the grand jury testimony. The defendants were found guilty after a jury trial, and the District Court denied their motion to dismiss the superseding indictment on the ground that the two agents' simultaneous presence before the grand jury violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(d), which provides that only specified persons including "the witness under examination" may be present at a grand jury proceeding. The Court of Appeals reversed the conspiracy convictions and dismissed the conspiracy portion of the indictment, holding that, although Rule 6(d) was violated, the violation tainted only that portion of the indictment.
Held: However diligent the defendants may have been in seeking to discover the basis for the claimed violation of Rule 6(d), the petit jury's guilty verdict rendered harmless any error in the grand jury's charging decision that may have flowed from the violation. In such case, the societal costs of retrial are far too substantial to justify setting aside the verdict simply because of an error in the grand jury proceeding. Pp. 475 U. S. 69-73.
756 F.2d 994, affirmed in part and reversed in part.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 475 U. S. 73. O'CONNOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which BRENNAN and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 475 U. S. 73. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 475 U. S. 80.
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