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United States v. Craig

decided: January 5, 1976.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ROBERT CRAIG, THOMAS J. HANAHAN AND LOUIS A. MARKERT, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 74 CR 877 ALFRED Y. KIRKLAND, Judge.

Cummings and Tone, Circuit Judges, and Kunzig, Judge.*fn* Tone, Circuit Judge, concurring.

Author: Cummings

CUMMINGS, Circuit Judge.

In December 1974, appellee Louis A. Markert, and co-defendants Robert Craig and Thomas J. Hanahan were indicted on two charges of political corruption. Count One alleged that while members of the Illinois House of Representatives, they and their unindicted co-conspirator Pete Pappas allegedly extorted $1500 from members of the Illinois Car and Truck Renting and Leasing Association, inducing the payments "under color of official right" in violation of the Hobbs Act (18 U.S.C. § 1951). Count Two charged that the same individuals engaged in a scheme to defraud the citizens of Illinois of their "loyal, faithful and honest services in their official positions" and "of their right to have the legislative business of the State of Illinois conducted honestly" by accepting $1500 to block passage of a certain bill. The scheme was said to violate the Mail Fraud Statute (18 U.S.C. § 1341).

During the grand jury's investigation of alleged corruption in the Illinois General Assembly, the appellee consented to interviews with postal inspectors in September 1973 and to an interview with postal inspectors and an Assistant United States Attorney in November 1974. In addition, he testified under subpoena before the grand jury on September 13, 1973. At all times, appellee was represented by counsel and informed of his right to refuse to answer questions by asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. He declined, however, to invoke this privilege and answered all questions put to him by the postal inspectors, Assistant United States Attorney and before the grand jury.

In February 1975, Markert moved to suppress his grand jury testimony and the other statements he gave to government agents on the ground that they were obtained from him in violation of the federal and state Speech or Debate Clauses. A few weeks later, the district judge ruled that Markert was entitled to the protection of the privilege accorded by the Speech or Debate Clause of the Illinois Constitution.*fn1 Consequently, the district court ordered Markert to provide "a concise written statement of what evidence, if any, was taken from him in violation of his [Illinois] constitutional privilege."

Subsequently, the district court handed down an unreported memorandum opinion and order granting Markert's motion to suppress certain portions of his grand jury testimony and parts of the interviews he gave to postal inspectors and the Assistant United States Attorney. The court decided that a legislator could not waive the privilege accorded by the Speech and Debate Clause of the State Constitution and "that the executive and judicial branches are prohibited from inquiring into legislative activities." The Government has appealed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3731.

The primary question is whether state legislators have a Speech or Debate privilege, conferred either by the Illinois Constitution or as a matter of federal common law, which bars the admission of certain evidence against state legislators in a federal criminal prosecution. If so, we must then decide whether Markert waived that privilege.

I

The Federal Rules of Evidence became effective July 1, 1975.*fn2 Rule 501 is the pertinent rule and provides as follows:

"Except as otherwise required by the Constitution of the United States or provided by Act of Congress or in rules prescribed by the Supreme Court pursuant to statutory authority, the privilege of a witness, person, government, State, or political subdivision thereof shall be governed by the principles of the common law as they may be interpreted by the courts of the United States in the light of reason and experience. However, in civil actions and proceedings, with respect to an element of a claim or defense as to which State law supplies the rule of decision, the privilege of a witness, person, government, State, or political subdivision thereof shall be determined in accordance with State law."

This version of Rule 501 does not alter the pre-existing criminal law in the federal courts. The standard embodied in the first sentence of Rule 501 was derived from Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. See Senate Report No. 93-1277, 93rd Cong., 2d Sess., 4 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 7051, 7058 (1974); House Report No. 93-650, 93rd Cong., 2d Sess., 4 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 7075, 7082 (1974). Rule 26 provided:

"The admissibility of evidence and the competency and privileges of witnesses shall be governed, except when an act of Congress or these rules otherwise provide, by the principles of the common law as they may be interpreted by the courts of the United States in the light of reason and experience."*fn3

This rule was promulgated in 1944 (effective in 1945) as part of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Prior to those rules, the law of evidence to be applied in federal criminal cases was uncertain. See Howard, Evidence in Federal Criminal Trials, 51 Yale L.J. 763 (1942). Neither state law nor federal law clearly applied. The governing statute, the Rules of Decision Act, provided that "the laws of the several states, except where the Constitution, treaties, or statutes of the United States otherwise require or provide, shall be regarded as rules of decision in trials at common law in courts of the United States in cases where they apply" (1 Stat. 92, now 28 U.S.C. § 1652). As interpreted by the Supreme Court, the statute required the federal courts in a criminal case to apply the law of the state in which the trial was held as it existed in 1789. United States v. Reid, 53 U.S. 361, 363, 13 L. Ed. 1023. If the state was admitted to the Union after 1789, the common law as of the date of admission controlled. Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263, 303, 36 L. Ed. 429, 12 S. Ct. 617. These principles, however, were not strictly followed. At times, the Supreme Court examined state laws of evidence in the light of "general authority and sound reason," rejecting them where they were antiquated or inappropriate. Benson v. United States, 146 U.S. 325, 335, 36 L. Ed. 991, 13 S. Ct. 60; see Rosen v. United States, 245 U.S. 467, 38 S. Ct. 148, 62 L. Ed. 406. Finally in Funk v. United States, 290 U.S. 371, 78 L. Ed. 369, 54 S. Ct. 212, and Wolfle v. United States, 291 U.S. 7, 78 L. Ed. 617, 54 S. Ct. 279, the Court abandoned any strict adherence to state rules of evidence in criminal cases, adopting instead a flexible standard which would allow the federal courts to modify or disregard local laws of privilege "in the light of reason and experience." 291 U.S. at 12. These two cases were the basis for Rule 26. See Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 26; Vanderbilt, New Rules of Criminal Procedure, 29 A.B.A.J. 376, 377. Under Rule 26 the federal courts were free to fashion a federal law of evidence consistent with the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and Congressional statutes. See Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S. 206, 216, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1669, 80 S. Ct. 1437; Cummings, The Third Adventure, 29 A.B.A.J. 654, 655. As the 1940 Criminal Rules Enabling Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771) provided in pertinent part:

"All laws in conflict with such rules [of criminal procedure] shall be of no further force and effect after such rules have taken effect."

The House Committee Report on Section 3771 showed that its purpose was to render it unnecessary to "search the common law, statutes, and constitutional provisions of the States * * * *" (H. Rep. No. 2492, 76th Cong., 3d Sess., 2 (1940)), in determining the admissibility of evidence in criminal cases. Thus Rule 26 envisioned that the admissibility of evidence in criminal cases in federal courts would be governed by federal law and would not be dependent upon diverse state laws, including state constitutional ...


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