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UNITED STATES v. MAHLER
April 26, 1983
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
Russell W. MAHLER, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONABOY
This is a civil action instituted by the United States pursuant to section 311(f)(2) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1321(f)(2),
to recover the cost of removing oil discharged into the Susquehanna River. The matter is presently before the Court on the motion of the Plaintiff, United States of America, for an order granting the Defendant Russell Mahler immunity under 18 U.S.C. §§ 6002-6003, and requiring him to answer interrogatories and provide other information in this civil action. For the reasons set forth herein, the motion will be granted.
The facts relevant to the instant motion may fairly be summarized as follows. Subsequent to the filing of the Complaint in this case, the Plaintiff served upon the Defendant a set of twenty-five (25) interrogatories for answer pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a). The major substance of these inquiries concerned Mahler's knowledge of and relationship with the various corporations allegedly involved in the discharge of the oil.
To all but one of these questions, the Defendant replied:
"Without waiving any other objection he may have to this question, the defendant objects to answering this interrogatory on the ground that to do so may violate his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination."
See Document # 17. Thereafter, on March 21, 1983, the Plaintiff filed a motion seeking an immunity order, pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §§ 6002-6003, to compel the Defendant to provide discovery information and other testimony in this case. The Defendant Mahler opposes the motion on two grounds: (1) that the government has no authority to grant immunity in a proceeding for civil remedies only; and (2) that a grant of immunity would not be co-extensive with his Fifth Amendment right in that his present testimony may expose him to criminal prosecution for perjury based on past untruthful sworn statements. We will consider each of these objections in turn.
Title 18 U.S.C. § 6003 provides in relevant part:
(b) A United States attorney may, with the approval of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, or any designated Assistant Attorney General, request an order under subsection (a) of this section when in his judgment --
(1) the testimony or other information from such individual may be necessary to the public interest; and
(2) such individual has refused or is likely to refuse to testify or provide other information on the basis of his ...
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