Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bank of Nova Scotia v. United States case brief

Bank of Nova Scotia v. United States case brief summary
487 U.S. 250 (1988)

CASE SYNOPSIS
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 employees appealed.

DISCUSSION

  • 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. 
  • Several of the government's acts were actually undertaken following the indictments, thereby having no effect on the grand jury. 
  • Other acts, while technically in violation of Fed. R. Crim. P. 6, were harmless. 
  • 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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