in reaching the conclusion that prosecution for contempt and actions leading up to contempt must be excluded from 'any criminal proceeding' as used in § 634. To hold otherwise would be to subvert the intent manifested in the preceeding sections of the same enactment.
The fact that § 634 contains the one exception, prosecution for perjury, in no wise affects the analogy between the instant case and the cases cited above, for in the Glickstein case, supra, it was stated: 'Bearing in mind the subject dealt with, we think the reservation of the right to prosecute for perjury, made in the statutes to which we have referred, was but the manifestation of abundant caution; * * * .' And in Heike v. United States, 227 U.S. 131, 33 S. Ct. 226, 227, 57 L. Ed. 450, Ann.Cas.1914C, 128: ' * * * This last proviso was added only from superfluous caution and throws no light on the construction.'
By this very exception, § 634 shows that it is not intended that all testimony, of whatever character, shall not be used in any criminal proceeding, but rather that it shall not be used in prosecutions for crimes distinct and apart from those of a contemptuous character. The criminal proceedings which § 634 contemplates are those for crimes which occurred prior to the action of the committee in subpoenaing the witness to appear and to which the witness was compelled to testify. As distinguished from criminal proceedings for such separate crimes, it would seem, in a sense, that a prosecution for contempt is but the continuation of the proceeding before the committee, the statements made and events transpiring at the hearing being inseparable from the prosecution for contempt. A prosecution for perjured testimony before the committee is of the same continuing character and is, in terms, excluded from the operation of the immunity provision. Evasive tactics constitute a parallel frustration of the purpose of the Congress to obtain full disclosure of all facts pertinent to a legislative inquiry.
This is not a case of using responsive testimony, received during an inquiry and pertinent to the purpose for which the committee was established, in proving a disrelated offense which occurred theretofore. The criminal offenses here under consideration are the direct outgrowth of actions or lack of action under the specific act of which § 634 is an integral part, and occurred at the hearing.
While not controlling in the legal determination of the question put, it is nevertheless significant that the Government in this particular case has stated that, as of the time of argument of the motion, without the aid of the evidence in question it would not be able to prove its case. This demonstrates as a practical matter that the legislative effort and purpose would be defeated by a literal construction of § 634.
In United States v. Kirby, 74 U.S. 482, 486, 7 Wall. 482, 486, 19 L. Ed. 278, the Supreme Court clearly stated an elementary principle of statutory construction: ' * * * All laws should receive a sensible construction. General terms should be so limited in their application as not to lead to injustice, oppression, or absurd consequence. It will always, therefore, be presumed that the legislature intended exceptions to its language, which would avoid results of this character. The reason of the law in such cases should prevail over its letter.'
Sutherland's Statutory Construction, in its discussion of the limitation on literal interpretation, states ( § 4706):
'The literal interpretation of words of an act should not prevail if it creates a result contrary to the apparent intention of the legislature and if the words are sufficiently flexible to admit of a construction which will effectuate the legislative intention. The intention prevails over the letter, and the letter must if possible be read so as to conform to the spirit of the act. * * * Thus words or clauses may be enlarged or restricted to harmonize with other provisions of an act. The particular inquiry is not what is the abstract force of the words or what they may comprehend, but in what sense were they intended to be used in the act. * * * '
Are we to hold that, although Congress has given the committees the right to compel full disclosure of matters pertinent to a legislative inquiry, prescribed penalties for failure of a witness to comply, and provided the method by which prosecutions for contempt shall be instituted in the courts, it has, by another section of the same enactment, deprived the Government of the very evidence by which it may attempt to prove a concerted effort to frustrate the basic intent of the legislation? Patently, this is a construction which leads to an absurdity. The law does not require that such interpretation be placed on the statute, but, on the contrary, that the statute be so read as to give life to it in its entirety. This can here be done without encroachment upon any right vested in the individual by the Constitution.
The Court therefore holds that 28 U.S.C.A. § 634 was not intended to, and does not, bar the use of all testimony taken at a Congressional hearing in a prosecution for contempt or conspiracy leading to contempt. Defendants' second objection is overruled.
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