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United States v. Brinkman

739 F.2d 977 (1984)

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United States v. Brinkman

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

739 F.2d 977 (1984)

Facts

After Robert Brinkman (defendant) and Manuel Kane’s business relationship soured, Kane refused to pay Brinkman outstanding royalties that Brinkman believed he was owed, and Brinkman began to threaten Kane. After learning that Brinkman wished to hire a hit man, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arranged for Brinkman to meet an informant known as “Bob Nails.” Nails introduced Brinkman to Mike Hartman, an undercover FBI agent. In recorded conversations, Brinkman instructed Hartman to beat up Kane. Hartman later gave Brinkman $5,000 that Hartman claimed came from Kane, and Brinkman returned $800 to Hartman as the collection fee. FBI agents arrested Brinkman, charging him with two extortionate-credit-transaction counts and one count of interstate travel to facilitate extortion. The federal magistrate judge granted Brinkman’s pretrial motion for disclosure of Nails’s identity. The district court reversed the order. Brinkman then applied for a court order to subpoena Nails and other witnesses. The district court granted the application, but the government (plaintiff) successfully moved to quash the subpoena for Nails. The district court determined that Nails was an undercover agent involved in several other active investigations and that Nails was not a direct witness to or participant in Brinkman’s crimes. The district court concluded that the public’s interest in preserving Nails’s active investigations outweighed Brinkman’s interest in uncovering the identity of an informant minimally involved in Brinkman’s crime. Brinkman was convicted of one of the extortionate-credit-transaction counts and the interstate-travel count. Brinkman appealed, arguing in part that the district court improperly denied Brinkman’s motion for disclosure of Nails’s identity.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Murnaghan, J.)

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