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Donovan v. Spadea

March 18, 1985

DONOVAN, RAYMOND J., SECRETARY OF LABOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
v.
SPADEA, SAMUEL, APPELLANT



Appeal From the United States District Court For the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, D.C. Civil No. 84-5393.

Author: Hunter

Before: HUNTER, HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judges, and DEBEVOISE,*fn* District Judge.

Opinion OF THE COURT

HUNTER, Circuit Judge:

1. This appeal arises from two orders of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. One ordered appellant Samuel Spadea to comply with a subpoena ad testificandum issued by the Department of Labor ("DOL"). The other held him in civil contempt of court for refusing to do so. Because we hold that the subpoena is valid and that Spadea's refusal to comply with it was without just cause, we will affirm the judgments of the district court.

I. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

2. In the spring of 1984, DOL's Labor-Management Services Administration ("LMSA"), to which the Secretary of Labor had delegated his powers under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 401-531 (1982), began an investigation into the activities of the Iron Workers District Counsel of Philadelphia and Vicinity ("District Council"). The investigation was part of LMSA's Compliance Audit Program, under which it probed possible violations of LMRDA. District Council Treasurer Samuel Spadea refused to cooperate with LMSA investigators. Consequently, on March 26, 1984, LMSA's Regional Administrator, Hilary Sheply, issued a subpoena ad testificandum addressed to Spadea. Although Spadea appeared at the time and place specified, he refused to testify.

3. The Secretary of Labor ("the Secretary") therefore brought suit to enforce the subpoena. The district court entered an order directing Spadea to show cause why the relief sought by the Secretary should not be granted. After a show cause hearing on November 26, 1984, the district court rejected Spadea's challenges to the validity of the subpoena, and ordered Spadea to appear for questioning that afternoon at the DOL's Philadelphia offices. Spadea made the required appearance, but once again refused to testify, asserting the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.

4. The Secretary then petitioned the district court for an order holding Spadea in civil contempt of court. On December 7, 1984, at the hearing on the government's motion, the district court asked Spadea the following six questions, which had been framed by the Secretary:

Is this your by-laws of the District Council?What is the geographical area of the Iron Workers, Philadelphia and Vicinity . . .? What is the date of the last regularly scheduled officer election in the District Council? Is this . . . the latest copy of the constitution of the Iron Workers? Are you an officer of the District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity? How long have you been an officer of the District Council and what is your position in the District Council?

App. at 284, 289, 291, 294, 297, 300. Spadea, again asserting the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, refused to answer each of these questions. The district court ruled that none of the questions was likely to elicit incriminatory responses, and directed Spadea to answer. When he refused to do so, the district court held him in civil contempt of court, and ordered that he be committed into the custody of the United States Marshal at Philadelphia until he answers the questions.

II. VALIDITY OF THE SUBPOENA

A.

5. LMRDA empowers "the Secretary or any officers designated by him" to issue subpoenas for the purpose of investigating possible violations of the Act. 29 U.S.C. § 521(b). Spadea argues that the district court erred in enforcing the subpoena because the officer who signed it, Hilary Sheply, was not duly designated by the Secretary. This argument is premised upon the fact that in May 1984, after the subpoena was issued but before the district court's enforcement order, DOL underwent an internal reorganization. Prior to this time, the Secretary's powers under both LMRDA and the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act ("ERISA") had been delegated to LMSA. See United States Department of Labor, Secretary's Order 9-77 (Sept. 14, 1977). On May 3, 1984, after the LMSA's ERISA powers had been transferred to another agency, LMSA was dismantled, and the Secretary's enforcement powers under LMRDA were redelegated to the newly-created Office of Labor-Management Standards ("OLMS"). See United States Department of Labor, Secretary's Order No. 3-84 (May 3, 1984). Before this reorganization, the Secretary's subpoena power under LMRDA had been delegated to LMSA Regional Administrators. See ...


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