in conformance to or agreement with
This litigation presents for review the denial of a motion, filed in the District Court on behalf of the President of the United States, in the case of United States v. Mitchell (D.C.Crim. No. 7110), to quash a third-party subpoena duces tecum issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia,
pursuant to Fed.Rule Crim.Proc. 17(c).
a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act
On March 1, 1974, a grand jury of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia returned an indictment charging seven named individuals with various offenses, including
conspiracy to defraud the United States and to obstruct justice. Although he was not designated as such in the indictment, the grand jury named the President, among others, as an unindicted coconspirator.
a writ issued to compel the attendance of a witness
subpoena required the production, in advance of the September 9 trial date, of certain tapes, memoranda, papers, transcripts, or other writings relating to certain precisely identified meetings between the President and others.
a point asserted as part of an argument
The District Court rejected jurisdictional challenges based on a
contention that the dispute was nonjusticiable because it was between the Special Prosecutor and the Chief Executive and hence "intra-executive" in character; it also rejected the
contention that the Judiciary was without authority to review an assertion of executive privilege by the President.
someone chosen to judge and decide a disputed issue
The District Court held that the judiciary, not the President, was the final
arbiter of a claim of executive privilege.
a right reserved exclusively by a person or group
The court concluded that, under the circumstances of this case, the presumptive
privilege was overcome by the Special Prosecutor's prima facie "demonstration of need sufficiently compelling to warrant judicial examination in chambers...."
a court order requiring an official to perform a function
On the same day, the President also filed a petition for writ of
mandamus in the Court of Appeals seeking review of the District Court order.
following or accompanying as a consequence
This Court has consistently held that the necessity for expedition in the administration of the criminal law justifies putting one who seeks to resist the production of desired information to a choice between compliance with a trial court's order to produce prior to any review of that order, and resistance to that order with the
concomitant possibility of an adjudication of contempt if his claims are rejected on appeal.
disrespect for the authority of a court or legislative body
This Court has consistently held that the necessity for expedition in the administration of the criminal law justifies putting one who seeks to resist the production of desired information to a choice between compliance with a trial court's order to produce prior to any review of that order, and resistance to that order with the concomitant possibility of an adjudication of
contempt if his claims are rejected on appeal.
The issue whether a President can be cited for contempt could itself
engender protracted litigation, and would further delay both review on the merits of his claim of privilege and the ultimate termination of the underlying criminal action for which his evidence is sought.
relatively long in duration
The issue whether a President can be cited for contempt could itself engender
protracted litigation, and would further delay both review on the merits of his claim of privilege and the ultimate termination of the underlying criminal action for which his evidence is sought.
marked by unjust severity or arbitrary behavior
A subpoena for documents may be quashed if their production would be "unreasonable or
oppressive," but not otherwise.
having a bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
the moving party must show: (1) that the documents are evidentiary and
relevant; (2) that they are not otherwise procurable reasonably in advance of trial by exercise of due diligence; (3) that the party cannot properly prepare for trial without such production and inspection in advance of trial, and that the failure to obtain such inspection may tend unreasonably to delay the trial; and (4) that the application is made in good faith and is not intended as a general "fishing expedition."
the quality of being particular rather than general
Against this background, the Special Prosecutor, in order to carry his burden, must clear three hurdles: (1) relevancy; (2) admissibility; (3)
challenge the honesty or veracity of
Recorded conversations may also be admissible for the limited purpose of
impeaching the credibility of any defendant who testifies or any other coconspirator who testifies.
make sense of; assign a meaning to
Since this Court has consistently exercised the power to
construe and delineate claims arising under express powers, it must follow that the Court has authority to interpret claims with respect to powers alleged to derive from enumerated powers.
an act exempting someone
However, neither the doctrine of separation of powers nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of
immunity from judicial process under all circumstances.
something immaterial that interferes with action or progress
impediment that an absolute, unqualified privilege would place in the way of the primary constitutional duty of the Judicial Branch to do justice in criminal prosecutions would plainly conflict with the function of the courts under Art. III.
not limited or restricted
The impediment that an absolute,
unqualified privilege would place in the way of the primary constitutional duty of the Judicial Branch to do justice in criminal prosecutions would plainly conflict with the function of the courts under Art. III.
complete and without restriction or qualification
In designing the structure of our Government and dividing and allocating the sovereign power among three co-equal branches, the Framers of the Constitution sought to provide a comprehensive system, but the separate powers were not intended to operate with
give instructions to or direct somebody to do something
While the Constitution diffuses power the better to secure liberty, it also contemplate that practice will integrate the dispersed powers into a workable government. It
enjoins upon its branches separateness but interdependence, autonomy but reciprocity.
make worse or less effective
To read the Art. II powers of the President as providing an absolute privilege as against a subpoena essential to enforcement of criminal statutes on no more than a generalized claim of the public interest in confidentiality of nonmilitary and nondiplomatic discussions would upset the constitutional balance of "a workable government" and gravely
impair the role of the courts under Art. III.
discretion in keeping secret information
The expectation of a President to the
confidentiality of his conversations and correspondence, like the claim of
confidentiality of judicial deliberations, for example, has all the values to which we accord deference for the privacy of all citizens and, added to those values, is the necessity for protection of the public interest in candid, objective, and even blunt or harsh opinions in Presidential decisionmaking.
a disposition or tendency to yield to the will of others
The expectation of a President to the confidentiality of his conversations and correspondence, like the claim of confidentiality of judicial deliberations, for example, has all the values to which we accord
deference for the privacy of all citizens and, added to those values, is the necessity for protection of the public interest in candid, objective, and even blunt or harsh opinions in Presidential decisionmaking.
having a reasonable basis for belief or acceptance
These are the considerations justifying a
presumptive privilege for Presidential communications.
integrity of the judicial system and public confidence in the system depend on full disclosure of all the facts, within the framework of the rules of evidence.
force somebody to do something
Thus, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that no man "shall be
compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."
the act of making something evident
In this case, the President challenges a subpoena served on him as a third party requiring the production of materials for use in a criminal prosecution; he does so on the claim that he has a privilege against
disclosure of confidential communications.
relating to negotiation between nations
He does not place his claim of privilege on the ground they are military or
pose a threat to; present a danger to
When this is the case, the occasion for the privilege is appropriate, and the court should not
jeopardize the security which the privilege is meant to protect by insisting upon an examination of the evidence, even by the judge alone, in chambers.
required by rule
The Sixth Amendment explicitly confers upon every defendant in a criminal trial the right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him" and "to have
compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor."
maintain, uphold, or defend
It is the manifest duty of the courts to
vindicate those guarantees, and to accomplish that it is essential that all relevant and admissible evidence be produced.
an encroachment or intrusion
In this case, we must weigh the importance of the general privilege of confidentiality of Presidential communications in performance of the President's responsibilities against the
inroads of such a privilege on the fair administration of criminal justice.
qualified for by right according to law
The interest in preserving confidentiality is weighty indeed, and
entitled to great respect.
the final judgment in a legal proceeding
A President's acknowledged need for confidentiality in the communications of his office is general in nature, whereas the constitutional need for production of relevant evidence in a criminal proceeding is specific and central to the fair
adjudication of a particular criminal case in the administration of justice.
legal proceedings against a defendant for criminal behavior
Without access to specific facts, a criminal
prosecution may be totally frustrated.
take away the legal force of or render ineffective
The President's broad interest in confidentiality of communications will not be
vitiated by disclosure of a limited number of conversations preliminarily shown to have some bearing on the pending criminal cases.
be larger in number, quantity, power, status or importance
We conclude that, when the ground for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed materials sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on the generalized interest in confidentiality, it cannot
prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal justice.
give in, as to influence or pressure
The generalized assertion of privilege must
yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.
remove by cutting
Statements that meet the test of admissibility and relevance must be isolated; all other material must be