Tuesday, December 24, 2013

United States v. R. Enterprises, Inc. case brief

United States v. R. Enterprises, Inc. case brief summary
498 U.S. 292 (1991)

Petitioner United States sought certiorari review of a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit pertaining to the standards applied when a party sought to avoid compliance with a subpoena duces tecum issued in connection with a grand jury investigation.

Federal grand jury issued subpoenas to respondents in its investigations of alleged interstate transportation of obscene materials seeking corporate books and records, and videotapes. Respondents, three sellers or distributors of adult materials with the same owner, moved to quash.

The district court found the subpoenas standard business subpoenas, denied the motions to quash, held respondents in contempt, and fined them on a per diem basis that was stayed pending appeal. The intermediate appellate court affirmed the business records subpoena as to one respondent, quashed the subpoenas as to two respondents, and remanded the motion to quash for videotapes after it concluded that the government had not demonstrated relevancy, admissibility, and specificity as required. The government was granted certiorari to determine whether the proper standard had been applied in evaluating the grand jury subpoenas issued to respondents.

The United States Supreme Court reversed the judgment quashing the two respondents' subpoenas, concluding that Fed. R. Crim. P. 17(c) imposed reasonableness limitations on grand jury subpoenas that had not been argued by respondents.

The Court reversed the appellate court's judgment quashing the subpoenas issued to two respondents and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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