Bank of Nova Scotia v. United States case brief summary
487 U.S. 250 (1988)
Petitioners bank and employees were
indicted by a grand jury for conspiracy and fraud. The district
court, invoking its supervisory powers, dismissed the indictments for
prosecutorial misconduct in violation of Fed. R. Crim. P. 6.
and U.S. Constitutional Amendment V and VI. Respondent
government appealed and the United States Court of Appeals for the
Tenth Circuit reversed the district court's order. The bank and
The Court, in reviewing the grand jury
proceedings, found that any misconduct or irregularities did not
substantially influence the grand jury's decision to indict.
of the government's acts were actually undertaken following the
indictments, thereby having no effect on the grand jury.
while technically in violation of Fed. R. Crim. P. 6, were
On these findings, the Court concluded that the district
court erred in invoking its supervisory power to dismiss indictments
for prosecutorial misconduct in a grand jury investigation, where the
misconduct did not prejudice the defendants.
The Court held that Fed.
R. Crim. P. 52(a) required a harmless-error inquiry; if the
error was not harmful, a federal court had no authority to invoke its
supervisory power to circumvent the rule.
Therefore, the court of
appeals did not err in reversing the order of the district court.
CONCLUSION The Court affirmed the order of the
court of appeals reversing the order of the district court, which
dismissed the grand jury indictments against the bank and its
employees for conspiracy and fraud.
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