U.S. v. Doe

460 F.2d 328 (1972)

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U.S. v. Doe

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
460 F.2d 328 (1972)

Facts

Samuel Popkin (defendant), an assistant professor of government at Harvard University, was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Massachusetts convened to investigate the leak of the Pentagon Papers and the resulting violations of federal law, including the Espionage Act. Popkin, who had written about the war in Vietnam and United States policy in the region, was subpoenaed because it was believed that he could provide sources who had knowledge of the leak, including individuals who had worked on the Pentagon Papers study. After initially refusing to testify, Popkin filed motions to prevent the government from forcing him to disclose information he obtained in his capacity as a scholar and teacher. Popkin’s motions were denied, and he was ordered to testify. At the hearing, Popkin answered several questions pertaining to his knowledge of the Pentagon Papers, stating that he had never seen the Pentagon Papers, had no nonpublic knowledge as to how newspapers obtained them, and was never given definitive information that someone possessed them in the state of Massachusetts. Popkin, however, refused to answer nine questions and was held in contempt. Some of the questions sought the sources that revealed to Popkin the individuals who participated in the Pentagon Papers study. The questions also sought the sources that provided information that led Popkin to believe that someone possessed the Pentagon Papers prior to a certain date. Popkin appealed the district court’s order finding him in contempt, arguing that he possessed a scholar’s privilege to withhold confidential information on sources, similar to that which was granted to journalists. The United States attorney general (plaintiff) argued that no such privilege existed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Coffin, J.)

Concurrence (Aldrich, C.J.)

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