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MARTIN-TRIGONA v. SMITH
September 18, 1984
ANTHONY R. MARTIN-TRIGONA, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM F. SMITH, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN
This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss, plaintiff's opposition thereto, defendant's reply to plaintiff's opposition; plaintiff's motion for writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum ; motion to order petitioner to be released on bail pendente lite and, if necessary, pending appeal; motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis ; oppositions thereto; plaintiff's amended petition for writ of habeas corpus, and the entire record herein. The parties also have submitted extensive additional briefing on all of the above motions. For the reasons outlined below, the Court grants defendant's motion to dismiss and denies plaintiff's motion for writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum and motion for order to be released on bail. Because of the disposition of this case, the Court does not address plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis.
The Court adopts the following facts as outlined by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ("Second Circuit") in In re Martin-Trigona, 732 F.2d 170 (2d Cir. 1984):
On June 23, 1983, shortly after Judge Cabranes transferred to the district court all matters concerning [Mr. Martin-Trigona's] estate in bankruptcy pending before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut, counsel for the trustee sought to question [plaintiff] pursuant to Bkrtcy R. 205. [Mr. Martin-Trigona] refused to answer several questions, claiming his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The examination was continued until July 1, 1983. On that date, [plaintiff's] prior counsel, M. Hatcher Norris, invited opposing counsel to apply for a grant of immunity and strongly implied that appellant would testify if immunity were forthcoming.
The United States Attorney subsequently applied for immunity under 18 U.S.C. § 6003, stating that [Mr. Martin-Trigona's] testimony was "necessary to the public interest." On November 3, 1983 Judge Cabranes granted the application for immunity. Examination of [plaintiff] was continued until January 3, 1984. [Mr. Martin-Trigona] again refused to testify at the hearing held on January 3 on the basis of the privilege of self-incrimination. Judge Cabranes ordered appellant to answer the questions put to him by [the trustee's counsel]. [Mr. Martin-Trigona] refused. As a result Judge Cabranes held [plaintiff] in civil contempt and ordered him incarcerated until he was prepared to testify in full.
Id. at 171. That order was affirmed on appeal by the Second Circuit. Id. at 176. Plaintiff presently is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI") in Danbury, Connecticut.
On September 30, 1983, plaintiff filed this present action in the form of a petition for writ of mandamus against defendant William F. Smith, Attorney General of the United States. Plaintiff seeks to have this Court issue a writ of mandamus directed to the Attorney General, barring any action on an immunity request pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 6003, or if such immunity has been approved, "declaring said immunity null and void ab initio and mandating that said grant be rendered nugatory." Petition for Writ of Mandamus at 7. Plaintiff asserts as a basis for this action that the Attorney General lacks the authority to grant immunity in a civil matter where no officer of the Federal Government seeks the information. He further states that there has been "no showing of a public purpose." On November 29, 1983, defendant filed a motion to dismiss.
Before addressing the merits of this action and defendant's motion to dismiss, the Court will address some of plaintiff's other motions.
On March 21, 1984, this Court issued an order requiring plaintiff to respond to defendant's motion to dismiss by March 30, 1984. It further ordered that oral argument on the motion would be held on April 6, 1984. This order was issued by the Court without its knowledge of plaintiff's incarceration. A hearing was initially ordered merely out of an abundance of caution by this Court and with the belief that the parties might easily be able to address these issues in court without undue burden. On April 4, 1984, the Court granted plaintiff an additional extension of ...
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