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July 1, 1993


Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; (Hon. John H. Suda, Motions & Trial Judge)

Before: Steadman, Schwelb and Wagner, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wagner

WAGNER, Associate Judge : These consolidated appeals arise from appellants' convictions following a jury trial for violations of D.C. Code § 9-112 (b)(4) (1989) (disruptive conduct on United States Capitol grounds) and D.C. Code § 9-112 (b)(7) (1989) (demonstrating within a United States Capitol building). The appellants, Michael Bardoff and Michael Kreis, raise identical issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred in quashing subpoenas for two United States Senators and an official of the United States House of Representatives based on a privilege under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution, art. I, § 6, cl. 1; and (2) whether the trial court erred in denying post-trial motions to dismiss one of the two counts on the ground that the two statutory provisions constitute the same offense within the meaning of the Double Jeopardy Clause. U.S. CONST. amend. V. We affirm the judgments of conviction.


On July 9, 1987, appellants went to the United States Russell Senate Office Building to attend a joint hearing before the U.S. Senate's Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition and the U.S. House of Representatives' Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran which was being chaired by Senator Daniel Inouye that day. *fn1 Appellants, who lined up at 5:00 a.m. in order to gain admittance to the hearings, planned to hold up a large banner during the testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, a presidential aide. *fn2 The sign read, "Ask about cocaine smuggling." *fn3 According to appellants, they hoped their actions would prompt questioning by the joint Congressional Committee members which would bring to the attention of the public the alleged illegal financing of arms to the Contras. Appellants knew they were risking arrest by bringing the banner into the hearing room.

Officer Jeroy Howard of the U.S. Capitol Police testified that he was assigned to duty in the hearing room that day. According to Officer Howard, because of threats on Col. North's life, he was instructed to "keep a watch" on anything unusual. Howard testified that another officer mentioned specifically that he should keep an eye on Kreis. Officer Howard testified that during Col. North's statement, he was standing about five feet from where the appellants were seated and that he observed appellant Bardoff stand and display the sign. Howard also said he heard Bardoff yell out something about cocaine smuggling when he stood up. According to the officer, he rushed toward Bardoff and pulled the sign out of his hand. Howard's supervisor told him to take appellants out of the room. Officer Howard said that as he did so, Bardoff's yelling was loud enough to interrupt the hearing and divert the attention of people in the room to Bardoff.

When appellants stood up and displayed the sign, another U.S. Capitol police officer, John Kurtz, was also on duty in the back of the hearing room behind appellants. Kurtz testified that he heard appellant Bardoff screaming loudly about cocaine smuggling before Officer Howard reached Bardoff. Kurtz said he had instructions not to do anything when appellants stood up until the chairman of the committee struck the gavel. Kurtz could not recall whether the gavel hit before he assisted Officer Howard in removing appellants from the room. Officer Kurtz remembered that it was appellant Bardoff's screaming which first attracted his attention, although he could not recall hearing Kreis speak. Officer Kurtz testified that he never saw Bardoff stand quietly and hold the banner. Both Kurtz and Howard testified that if appellants had stood quietly or simply had worn shirts or buttons with a message, they would have asked only that appellants be seated. Officer Kurtz said that Bardoff resisted the officers by kicking, hitting, and biting them. A videotape was introduced by the government containing a portion of the C-Span network's broadcast of the events, which Kurtz identified at trial. *fn4

Defense evidence showed that appellants entered the Senate Caucus Room about 10:30 a.m. with other members of the public. Both appellants testified that they "smuggled" the banner into the room because they did not expect to be allowed to bring it in. Bardoff testified that he knew there was a good chance that displaying the banner would cause a disruption in the proceedings. After listening to Col. North's testimony for about fifteen minutes, and recognizing that their group would be rotated out of the hearing room soon, Kreis pulled out the banner, handed one half to Bardoff, and proceeded to unfold his half. As Bardoff tried unsuccessfully to open his half, a policeman moved in and grabbed Bardoff's part of the banner within a second or two after he stood up. Appellant Kreis, who had his attention focused on the front of the room where North was testifying, said he heard the sound of chairs moving and realized they were not going to be allowed to demonstrate peacefully as they intended. According to Kreis, he then said, in what he characterized as a very direct, in-control, conversational tone, "Col. North, how many tons of cocaine passed through your friend John Hall's Costa Rica ranch into the U.S. since 1984?" Bardoff joined in, asking, "Why don't you ask about the cocaine smuggling?" and "Why don't you ask about the cocaine that's being shipped into U.S. Air Force base ?" *fn5 As police forcibly escorted Bardoff from the hearing room, he shouted similar questions. According to Bardoff, the Committee members reacted calmly, and Senator Inouye hit the gavel and recessed the hearing for ten minutes.

Appellants filed subpoenas for Senators Daniel Inouye, Paul Sarbanes, and John Kerry *fn6 as well as for House and Senate Committee Chief Counsel, John Nields and Arthur Liman, Col. North, various Senate and House Congressional staffers who were on the dais behind the Congressional Members and the Custodian of Documents of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. *fn7 The Senators moved to quash the subpoenas on the grounds that the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution barred inquiry into their legislative activities and that they should not be compelled to testify as eyewitnesses unless there was a showing of necessity. At the hearing on the motion, counsel for Kreis argued that they needed the testimony of Senator Inouye to establish his reason for recessing the hearings in order to show that appellants' conduct was not responsible for the recess and that alternative actions were available to the Committee Chairman. Appellants also contended that everyone subpoenaed, including the Senators, would be fact witnesses. Appellants assumed that the position of these individuals on the dais would have placed them in a position to observe, and therefore to testify, that appellants' conduct did not disrupt the proceedings. Appellants made no proffer that any of the potential witnesses actually would so testify. Appellants represented that if Col. North, who had his back to the audience, were called, they could ask him why he flinched, a movement reflected in a portion of the videotape which was introduced in evidence.

Counsel for the Senators argued at a pre-trial motions hearing that there were other witnesses to the event, including those in the audience, who could provide evidence similar to that which appellants were seeking from the Senators, and therefore, their testimony could not be compelled. Counsel for Senator Inouye argued that any decision on the part of the Senator as Chairman of the Committee was made pursuant to his legislative responsibilities, and thus fell within the protection of the Speech or Debate Clause.

The trial court granted the Senators' motions to quash on the grounds that the testimony sought concerned matters protected by the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution. The court also quashed the subpoenas for the Senators because appellants had failed to proffer any reason why others present who did not hold such high office could not provide the testimony. For these same reasons, the trial court also granted House Select Committee Counsel John Nields' motion to quash. Col. Oliver North's motion to quash was granted on several grounds, including that: (1) the videotape of events was the best evidence of what transpired, particularly considering that North's back was to the action; and (2) the testimony sought from North was irrelevant because the issue was not whether the testimony was interrupted, but rather whether the proceedings were disrupted. The trial court also found that the other subpoenas had not been served properly.


Appellants argue that the trial court erred in granting the motions to quash the subpoenas for Senators Inouye and Sarbanes and the chief counsel because the Speech or Debate Clause does not provide immunity from testifying at criminal trials about factual matters which do not implicate legislative actions. *fn8 They contend that the court's erroneous ruling deprived them of fundamental rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments and forced them to waive their right to remain silent in order to present a defense. We find no reversible error in the trial court's ruling.

Although on appeal appellants advance as the principal reason for the inapplicability of the Speech or Debate Clause that the individuals they subpoenaed were sought as fact witnesses, the record shows that their principal arguments before the trial court were that they wanted to question the Senators about the rationale for calling a recess of the hearing and the availability of alternative courses of action. Counsel for the Senators argue on appeal, as they did before the trial court, that there were many others present in the audience who could have provided the evidence which appellants sought. Further, they argued, the Committee Chairman's decision to call a recess was made pursuant to his legislative responsibilities, and therefore fell within the Speech or Debate Clause. In addressing these arguments, the trial court based its ruling that the testimony could not be compelled on two grounds: (1) that in recessing the hearing, the Senators were engaged in a ...

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