Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


December 9, 1976


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK


 On December 7, 1976, this Court found Stanley A. Apfelbaum in civil contempt and ordered him confined pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1826. Although the witness requested an in camera hearing, the hearing was held in open court. The policy of secrecy in connection with grand jury proceedings has been long established in the federal judicial system. It is generally conceded that the reasons for this policy of secrecy are: (1) to prevent the escape of those whose indictment may be contemplated; (2) to insure the utmost freedom to the grand jury in its deliberations, and to prevent persons subject to indictment or their friends from importuning the grand jurors; (3) to prevent subornation of perjury or tampering with the witnesses who may testify before the grand jury and later appear at the trial of those indicted by it; (4) to encourage free and untrammeled disclosures by persons who have information with respect to the commission of crimes; (5) to protect the innocent accused who is exonerated from disclosure of the fact that he has been under investigation, and from the expense of standing trial where there was no probability of guilty. United States v. Rose, 215 F.2d 617, 628 (3d Cir. 1954); In Re William H. Pflaumer & Sons, Inc., 53 F.R.D. 464, 469-70 (E.D. Pa. 1971).

 Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) implements the policy of secrecy by mandating that grand jurors, attorneys for the Government and court reporters etc., shall not disclose matters occurring before the grand jury except when directed by the Court in conjunction with a judicial proceeding. In addition, Rule 4(c) of our Local Rules of Criminal Procedure specifically provides that the United States shall not disclose the identity of any grand jury witness, person under investigation, or specific grand jury investigation subject area in any affidavit, motion or other paper filed. Local Rule of Criminal Procedure 4(c) further provides that such papers shall be filed with the Court in camera.

 However, where a witness is subpoenaed, appears before the grand jury, invokes his Constitutional right to take the Fifth Amendment, and the court grants him immunity, then in the event the witness determines that he will not testify, the law is clear that he is entitled to a hearing to determine whether he should be held in civil contempt and, if so found, sentenced to confinement until the witness agrees to testify before the grand jury. Said confinement, however, shall not exceed the term of the grand jury, including extensions, and in no event shall confinement exceed eighteen (18) months. The hearing to determine whether the witness is in contempt of court and should be confined pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1826 is not covered by the policy of secrecy. It should be a public hearing.

 The Government's efforts to obtain the testimony of Mr. Apfelbaum first came to the Court's attention on September 27, 1976 when a subpoena was issued ordering him to appear as a witness before a grand jury empaneled by this Court. On October 18, 1976, at an in camera hearing, attended by the witness, Mr. Apfelbaum, and all counsel, the witness presented a motion to quash the subpoena. The Court denied that motion. At a second in camera hearing held on October 20, 1976, attended by the witness, Mr. Apfelbaum, and all counsel, the Court, having found that the witness had been called to testify before the grand jury and that he had invoked his privilege against self-incrimination, signed an Order which granted him immunity and ordered him to appear and testify before the grand jury on November 1, 1976. On November 1, 1976, the Court, having been advised in camera that Mr. Apfelbaum had refused to testify, set November 8, 1976, at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 10B of this courthouse as the time and place of a hearing to determine whether he should be held in contempt of court and, if found in contempt, sentenced pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1826. On November 8, 1976, Mr. Apfelbaum and all counsel appeared in chambers, at which time the witness claimed that he was too ill to participate in a hearing. The Court granted the witness's request and continued the hearing until November 11, 1976 at 9:30 a.m.

 On November 11, 1976, the Court was advised that Mr. Apfelbaum was physically unable to come to court and that he was undergoing treatment for diabetes, high blood pressure, and chest pains at the Roxborough Memorial Hospital. The hearing was again continued until November 15, 1976 at 1:30 p.m. The Court directed that Dr. Paul P. Slawek, Mr. Apfelbaum's physician, and Dr. John Kelly, a physician appointed by the Court to examine the witness, be present in court and testify concerning Mr. Apfelbaum's condition. On November 15, 1976, the Court was advised by all counsel that both Dr. Kelly and Dr. Slawek agreed that the witness was physically unable to attend the hearing, but that he would probably be able to testify on November 29, 1976. The hearing was therefore continued until November 29, 1976 at 4:00 p.m. On November 29, 1976, the Court was told that Mr. Apfelbaum had checked out of the Roxborough Memorial Hospital and had checked into Fairmount Farms.

 It was on November 29, 1976 that the Government petitioned the Court for a bench warrant to arrest Mr. Apfelbaum. The Court ordered a hearing for December 1, 1976 at 4:00 p.m. to take testimony as to whether Mr. Apfelbaum was physically able and mentally competent to participate in the hearing which had been scheduled and continued on several previous occasions. At that hearing, Dr. Slawek testified that the witness had diabetes and that his blood sugar level was such that he should not be ordered into court to testify. The witness also called Dr. K. George Laquer, a psychiatrist, who testified that Mr. Apfelbaum was under his care at Fairmount Farms, that he was insane and unable to understand the proceedings against him and to properly assist in his own defense. The Government called Dr. Kelly to the stand who gave his opinion that the diabetes of Mr. Apfelbaum was such that it would not be an undue risk to his health to order him into court and stated that the witness had been in the same diabetic condition for the past year. Dr. Kelly testified further that Mr. Apfelbaum's presence in the courtroom would not pose an immediate threat to his life. The Government also presented the testimony of a psychiatrist, Dr. Robert DiSilverio, who stated that he found no evidence of any psychiatric disorder that would render Mr. Apfelbaum incompetent to participate in the contempt proceedings. It was his opinion that Mr. Apfelbaum was competent to appear and participate in the proceedings.

 Upon the representation of the attorney for the United States that Dr. Laquer wished to supplement his testimony, a hearing was held on December 6, 1976, at which Dr. Laquer testified that since the previous hearing he had performed tests and that it was now his opinion that Mr. Apfelbaum was not insane and was competent to understand any proceedings against him and to properly assist in his own defense. Dr. Laquer further testified that there had been improvement in Mr. Apfelbaum's physical condition in that his blood sugar level had declined, and his electrocardiogram readings were normal.

 On December 7, 1976, the Court found that Mr. Apfelbaum was not insane, that he was able to understand the proceedings against him and to properly assist in his own defense and that his physical condition was such that to bring him into court for the purpose of said hearing would not be an undue risk to his health. The Court issued a bench warrant ordering that Mr. Apfelbaum be arrested and brought before the Court at 4:00 p.m. for a hearing to determine whether or not he was in contempt of court.

 At the 4:00 p.m. hearing on December 7, 1976, the Government presented testimony that Mr. Apfelbaum, having been granted immunity and ordered to testify before the grand jury, refused to testify. Mr. Apfelbaum was given the opportunity to show "just cause" for not complying with this Court's Order of October 20, 1976, ordering him to testify. The only defense placed on the record at that time was his claim that the court reporter, Ms. Catherine Black, who recorded the grand jury testimony on November 1, 1976, was not authorized to be in the grand jury room. The witness presented no evidence to support this claim. While it may be true that the presence of unauthorized persons during the grand jury session in which a witness is called to testify would, if established, constitute "just cause" for a refusal to testify, see United States v. DiGirlomo, 393 F. Supp. 997, 1000 (D.C. Mo. 1975), a presumption of regularity attaches to the grand jury's proceedings, and the party objecting to them has the burden of making a showing of irregularity. See In re Grand Jury Proceedings; Jacqueline Schofield, Witness, 486 F.2d 85, 92 (3d Cir. 1973). The witness requested that the hearing be continued to enable him to present evidence that Catherine Black was not authorized to be in the grand jury room as a court reporter. We denied the request to once again continue the hearing on the ground that the hearing had originally been scheduled for November 8, 1976, and had already been continued four times and the witness had ample time and notice to establish a "just cause" defense.

 The Third Circuit, in an opinion handed down on November 23, 1976, discussed notice which must be afforded a witness to prepare for a civil contempt proceeding. In re: Grand Jury Proceedings; Steve Bruno, 545 F.2d 385, 388 (3d Cir. 1976). Judge McGlynn, one of my learned colleagues, stated:

In our view, the right to a hearing and a reasonable time to prepare is implicit in the language of [28 U.S.C.] § 1826(a). The power of the Court to "summarily" punish for contempt is limited to those instances where the witness' refusal to respond is "without just cause." This language must be construed as affording the witness "the opportunity of presenting all defenses properly available to him" . . . and, as a corollary, a reasonable time to prepare.

 Mr. Apfelbaum received notice of the hearing on November 1, 1976. This Court finds that he and his counsel had more than reasonable time to prepare for the hearing ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.