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In re Grand Jury Empanelled February 14

decided: July 23, 1979.



Before Hunter, Weis and Garth, Circuit Judges.

Author: Hunter


This appeal is taken from the May 22, 1979 Order of the District Court for the District of New Jersey which directed that Nathan Markowitz, Esq. be confined pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1826 for refusing to disclose the identity of his client and for refusing to produce documents called for by a grand jury subpoena which had been served on him. Markowitz claimed both his and his client's fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination and the attorney-client privilege when he refused to name his client. He also claimed these privileges when he refused to turn over the documents requested by the grand jury subpoena.

The district court held that Markowitz could not avail himself of the privilege against self-incrimination and could not assert his client's privilege; it also concluded that no attorney-client privilege had been established. Accordingly the court ordered his confinement.*fn1 We disagree with the district court's refusal to grant Markowitz's fifth amendment privilege to refuse to identify his client. On all other points of the district court's holding we agree. Thus, the order of confinement, absent the requirement that Markowitz identify his client, will be affirmed.


On March 17, 1979, the motor vessel OLAUG, allegedly the property of the Killington Investment Corporation, was seized off the New Jersey coastline by federal officials. It was found to be carrying approximately 42,000 pounds of hashish. The grand jury before which Markowitz was directed to appear is investigating the circumstances surrounding the presence of the hashish aboard the OLAUG. Markowitz was summoned to appear*fn2 because the government apparently believes that he has participated in transactions relating to the ownership of the OLAUG. See Transcript of In Re Grand Jury at 25; Appellant's Appendix at 45a. On May 22, 1979 Markowitz appeared before the grand jury. He refused to produce any documents or answer any questions, except for preliminary questions about his name and occupation. As a basis for this refusal, he asserted his fifth amendment privilege, his client's fifth amendment privilege, and the attorney-client privilege.

The government immediately sought a ruling from the district court as to whether Markowitz was justified in asserting these privileges. The court ruled that it would be necessary to examine the documents In camera in order to determine if the privileges applied to those documents. Before examining the file, the court directed Markowitz to take the stand and be sworn. After identifying the documents in the files as the ones subpoenaed and providing some information on his professional background, Markowitz refused to identify his client. The court ruled that Markowitz could not justify this refusal on the basis of any of the privileges claimed and ordered him to answer. When Markowitz again refused, the court instructed him that he could be confined pursuant to either 28 U.S.C. § 1826 or Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 42. The court allowed a recess for Markowitz to consider his position. At the resumption of proceedings, the court questioned Markowitz about several items in the document file. He refused to answer on the basis of the three grounds asserted previously. The court ruled that this refusal also was not justified. When Markowitz respectfully continued to refuse to answer, the court ordered that he be committed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1826.

First, we consider Markowitz's refusal to identify his client. On appeal Markowitz asserts only the attorney-client privilege and his own fifth amendment privilege.*fn3


In the circumstances of this case we conclude that Markowitz could not refuse to name his client in reliance on the attorney-client privilege, even assuming that all of the necessary elements of an attorney-client relationship had been established. In Gannet v. First National State Bank of New Jersey, 546 F.2d 1072, 1073 n. 4 (3d Cir. 1976), Cert. denied, 431 U.S. 954, 97 S. Ct. 2674, 53 L. Ed. 2d 270 (1977), we wrote:

This court has stated in at least two opinions that absent unusual circumstances the identity of the client does not come within the attorney-client privilege. See In re Semel, 411 F.2d 195, 197 (3d Cir. 1969); Mauch v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 113 F.2d 555, 556-57 (3d Cir. 1940).

The cases relied upon in Semel describe the situations in which the identity of a client is privileged. In Colton v. United States, 306 F.2d 633 (2d Cir. 1962), Cert. denied, 371 U.S. 951, 83 S. Ct. 505, 9 L. Ed. 2d 499 (1963) the court found the privilege warranted where "the substance of a disclosure has already been revealed but not its source." Id. at 637. Similarly, in United States v. Pape, 144 F.2d 778 (2d Cir.), Cert. denied, 323 U.S. 752, 65 S. Ct. 86, 89 L. Ed. 602 (1944) the court observed that there may be "situations in which so much has already appeared of the actual communications between an attorney and a client, that the disclosure of the client will result in a breach of the privilege." Id. at 783. This case does not present such a fact situation. No confidential communications between Markowitz and his client have been revealed. There are no confidences to which Markowitz's client would be linked were its identity known, and hence no privilege within the contemplation of Gannet.*fn4

As to the fifth amendment claim, however, we find that Markowitz does have the right to refuse to reveal the identity of his client. We conclude, in contrast to the district court, that an answer would be "incriminating" compelled testimony within the meaning of the fifth amendment. In Hoffman v. United States, 341 U.S. 479, 71 S. Ct. 814, 95 L. Ed. 1118 (1951), a witness refused to answer certain questions asked by a federal grand jury. The Supreme Court held that the fifth amendment privilege "not only extends to answers that would in themselves support a conviction under a federal criminal statute but likewise embraces those which would furnish a link in the chain of evidence needed to prosecute the claimant." Id. at 486, 71 S. Ct. at 818. To sustain a conviction for contempt it must be " "Perfectly clear, from a careful consideration of all the circumstances in the case, that the witness (who invokes the privilege) ...

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