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United States v. Doe

United States Supreme Court
465 U.S. 605 (1984)


Facts

Doe (plaintiff) filed a motion to quash five subpoenas served on him by the United States government (Government) (defendant) in connection with a grand jury investigation into corruption involving county and municipal contracts. Doe was the owner of several sole proprietorships and the subpoenas contained broad requests for business records belonging to Doe’s businesses. The district court granted Doe’s motion to quash, except records Doe was required by law to retain or to disclose to a public agency. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed, finding that a sole proprietor’s records are akin to personal records and therefore, although created voluntarily, the records were entitled to Fifth Amendment protection. Secondly, the Court of Appeals held that Doe’s act of producing the subpoenaed documents was communicative because producing the documents was a tacit admission of the records’ existence and authenticity. The Government argued for enforcement of the subpoenas because the Government had offered not to use the documents against Doe in any way. The Third Circuit rejected this argument because the Government had not made a formal request for use immunity under 18 U.S.C. § 6002 and 6003. The Government appealed the Supreme Court.

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Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

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Concurrence/Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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