The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIRICA
The Senate Select Committee on Presidential Activities (Committee) has applied to this Court for an order conferring immunity upon and compelling the testimony of David R. Young pursuant to Title 18, United States Code §§ 6002 and 6005. The Attorney General, as represented by the Watergate Special Prosecutor, has waived the statutory 10-day notice requirement and the 20-day deferral period. The witness, Mr. Young, has no objection to entry of the immunity order sought by the Committee, but raises a point of statutory construction bearing on the form of the order. The problem centers on the exceptions proviso of § 6002, Title 18, and the construction given that proviso in a recent California case, In Re Baldinger, 356 F. Supp. 153 (C.D. Cal. 1973).
Section 6002 comprises a general definition of "use immunity" and is incorporated by reference in subsequent sections of the statute, §§ 6003-6005, which relate use immunity to grand jury, administrative and congressional proceedings. The final clause of § 6002, the exceptions proviso, bars the use of immunized testimony for purposes of prosecuting the witness except in a "prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with the order." On its face, this language applies only to the testimony for which immunity is given. As Mr. Young notes, however, the Baldinger decision has construed the provision otherwise.
In Baldinger, a grand jury witness opposed immunity on the ground that § 6002 did not preclude the use of her compelled testimony in a possible prosecution for prior false statements to FBI agents. The court there agreed that the statute left open such a possibility and therefore found § 6002 unconstitutional as applied. Mr. Young dissents from this interpretation, but to resolve any doubt, he suggests that the Court modify the immunity order proposed by the Committee, which in its present form tracks the § 6002 proviso, so as to eliminate any possibility that his Senate testimony might be used in a criminal action involving prior statements or testimony.
The Court cannot acquiesce in the Baldinger construction of § 6002. The statute's language, its legislative history, and the well-established principle that wherever reasonable, statutes must be read so as to preserve their constitutionality,
all combine to affirm that the exceptions proviso has a prospective application only. The Court holds that the statute and proposed immunity order, as written, satisfy the witness' concerns, and no amendment is needed.
The Baldinger decision presents what may be a permissible interpretation of the § 6002 proviso, but that interpretation is by no means a necessary one. Indeed, a natural reading favors a conclusion just the opposite of that reached in Baldinger. As pointed out by Mr. Young, the word "otherwise," for example, makes no sense in the context of the statute unless it means that a prospective failure to comply with the order is the only event with which the exception is concerned, and that "perjury" and "giving a false statement" are but two examples of such a failure to comply.
If prosecutions relating to earlier statements or testimony were within the contemplation of the exception, the word "otherwise" would have been omitted.
It strains the language of § 6002 to read it as having any other than a prospective application. Not only is the statute susceptible of a constitutional interpretation, the Supreme Court itself has found that it fully satisfies the Fifth Amendment's proscriptions.
Construing § 6002, then, in the specific case now before the Court, the immunity order as drafted by the Committee protects Mr. Young against any prosecutorial use of his Senate testimony, direct or indirect, the sole exception being that if Mr. Young perjures himself before the Senate Committee or otherwise fails to comply with the instant ...