« ForrigeFortsett »
was privileged from discovery and that a Member could
Supp. 246, 247 (D.D.C. 1981). (Id. at 5] Finally, the memorandum asserted once again that the subpoena was nothing more than an attempt by the plaintiffs to retaliate for the committee investigation and hearings.
On April 23, 1982, the Congressional deponents and Rep. Dingell filed a motion to stay further proceedings concerning them pending a ruling by the court on a summary judgment motion filed by the defendants in the libel action. They argued that, in the face of this potentially dispositive summary judgment motion, there might not be a need to resolve the "sensitive and weighty” constitutional questions posed by the assertion of the Speech or Debate Clause privilege. On April 27, the motion by the Congressional deponents and Rep. Dingell to stay the proceedings as to them was opposed by the plaintiffs, who termed it "inappropriate," and argued that the depositions were in fact necessary in order for them to effectively oppose the pending motion for summary judgment. Later that day, Judge Gasch issued a one-sentence order denying the motion to stay the proceedings.
On April 28, 1982, Rep. Dingell's motion to quash the subpoena was argued before Judge Gasch and taken under advisement.
Also on April 28, 1982, Judge Gasch issued an order granting in part and denying in part the plaintiffs' motion to compel answers of the Congressional staff members. The order stipulated that: (1) the Congressional deponents had to answer questions relating to contacts and communications voluntarily initiated by the Post reporters, including questions about any discussions that ensued between the reporters and the staff members; (2) the Congressional deponents need not answer questions relating to the existence of 'acquisitional" contacts; (3) the Congressional deponents had to answer questions relating to: (a) the dissemination of information outside Congress; (b) arrangements to disseminate information outside Congress, including the approval or authorization of dissemination by Rep. Dingell; and (c) Rep. Dingell's or any staff member's knowledge of, or acquiescence in, disseminations or arrangements to disseminate outside Congress; (4) the Congressional deponents need not answer questions about Rep. Dingell's authorization of, or participation in, any investigation into the propriety of acts of dissemination or arrangements to disseminate by his staff; (5) the Congressional deponents had to answer questions about communications between Congressional staff that concerned the existence and nature of any acts of dissemination, arrangements to disseminate, or contacts initiated by the Post defendants or others to submit information to Congressional staff; and (6) the Congressional deponents need not answer questions about communications between Congressional staff that concerned the use or evaluation of information received during contacts initiated by the Post defendants or others.
On April 30, 1982, Judge Gasch issued an order granting Rep. Dingell's motion to quash the subpoena served on him. Judge Gasch ruled that:
plaintiffs' subpoena is calculated to probe impermissibly
sources. [Order, April 30, 1982, at 1] During July 1982, a jury trial was held on the libel action, and on July 30, the jury returned a verdict in favor of William Tavoulareas against the Post in the amount of $2,050,000, against a Post reporter and a special correspondent in the amount of $250,000, and against defendant Piro in the amount of $5,000. Additionally, Peter Tavoulareas was awarded a $1,000 judgment against defendant Piro. Motions for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict were subsequently filed by the Post
and Post reporter, the special correspondent, and Mr. Piro. The Post and the reporters also filed motions for a new trial and for a reduction in the amount of the judgment.
On September 13, 1982, Judge Gasch, finding that the July 20th verdicts against the Post and the Post reporter and special correspondent were "prepared in error," issued an order vacating both judgments. At the same time, Judge Gasch directed that amended judgments be filed against the Post for punitive damages in the amount of $1,800,000, and against the Post and the Post reporter and special correspondent in the amount of $250,000. The judgments against defendant Piro were left unchanged.
On December 16, 1982, the motions for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for a new trial were argued before Judge Gasch and take under advisement.
Status—The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. As of March 1, 1983, the court had not ruled on the post-trial motions, and therefore it is not known whether the involvement in the case of the Congressional staff members and Rep. Dingell has been finally concluded.
The complete texts of the September 10, 1981 and November 13, 1981 memoranda of the district court are printed in the “Decisions" section of Court Proceedings and Actions of Vital Interest to the Congress, March 1, 1982. Common Cause v. Bolger
[See page 269.) 2. Criminal Proceedings: United States v. Roth
Nos. 81-1442, 81-1585, 81-1586, 81-1587, 81-1588, and 81-1589
(D.C. Ct. App.) On April 23, 1981, the Separation of Powers Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on S. 158, a bill "to provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception." During the course of the hearing, three women-Elizabeth Smith, Tracie De Janikus, and Maureen Angelos-stood up on their chairs, displayed posters, and shouted "Stop the Committee.” A short time later, three other women-Karen Zimmerman, Sandra Schulman and Stephanie Roth-engaged in similar conduct. After being arrested by the Capitol Police, the six women were charged under informations in the District of Columbia Superior Court [Criminal Case Nos. M-4347-81, M-4348-81, M-4349-81, M-435381, M-4354-81, M-4355-81] with violating D.C. Code: 1973, § 9123(b)(4) which provides:
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons willfully and knowingly
(4) to utter loud, threatening, or abusive language, or to engage in any disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place upon the United States Capitol Grounds or within any of the Capitol Buildings with intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of any session of the Congress or either House thereof, or the orderly conduct within any such building of any hearing before, or any diliberations of, any committee or subcommittee of the Con
gress or either House thereof. On April 24, 1981, the defendants pled not guilty and were released on bond.
On June 15, 1981, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the informations on grounds of selective and discriminatory prosecution. In an accompanying memorandum, the defendants' counsel argued that the motion was based on their "belief that they have been singled out for prosecution based upon the views they advocate, rather than the nature of any conduct may have engaged in.” [Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion to Dismiss ..., June 15, 1981, at 2] The memorandum alleged that Subcommittee Chairman Senator John East had refused to allow testimony from witnesses in favor of abortion and had an "animosity" toward those who supported the right to abortion. As evidence of this, the defendants submitted to the court a letter from Subcommittee Member Senator Max Baucus criticizing the plans for conducting hearings on S. 158. Finally, the defendants contended that "the brief interruption in the hearing proceedings occasioned by the conduct they are alleged to have engaged in is of the nature that occurs not infrequently in the course of Congressional proceedings.” (Id. at 3] They noted that they had been “unable to find any other instance of arrest and prosecution under $ 9-123(b)(4), D.C. Code, for conduct similar to what they have done.” (Id.] These facts all led to the conclusion, the defendants maintained, that they had been singled out for arrest and prosection on the basis of their political views.
Because, according to the defendants, the evidence necessary for the determination of their selective prosecution claims was in the hands of the Government, they also simultaneously filed a motion for discovery and an evidentiary hearing.
On June 26, 1981, the Government filed a motion in limine to exclude irrelevant evidence. Specifically, the motion asked the court to rule in advance of trial that evidence concerning the “merits and substance of the inquiry conducted by the Separation of Powers Subcommittee, the procedures used by the Subcommittee to select witnesses for the hearing, and the political and philosophical views of any witnesses at trial on the legality or morality of abortion is irrelevant and inadmissible." [Government's Motion in Limine to Exclude Irrelevant Evidence, June 26, 1981, at 1] Arguing that in cases “involving politically motivated defendants, the criminal justice system often faces the danger that the narrow factual and legal question at issue may become overwhelmed by highly-charged political concerns” (Id. at 2], the Government contended that a criminal trial should not become a forum for the defendants to air their views on the legality and morality of abortion. Such evidence, said the Government, was irrelevant to the question of whether the defendants illegally disrupted a Congressional proceeding, and its introduction would not enhance the orderly conduct of the trial.
On June 29, 1981, the Government filed a memorandum in response to the defendants' motion to dismiss the informations on grounds of selective and discriminatory prosecution. At the outset, the Government contended that neither of the allegations on which the defendants based their motion—that Chairman East wanted to prevent pro-abortion views from being heard, and that interruptions of Congressional hearings by spectators occur "not infrequently"-would, even if proved, provide legitimate grounds for dismissal for selective prosecution. Although the Government acknowledged that courts did occasionally reverse convictions on the basis of selective prosecution, it argued that to succeed in such a claim defendants must "prove they have been singled out for harsh treatment on the basis of some unjustifiable standard such as race, religion or political views" or show they "have been prosecuted in punishment for activities other than violating the criminal statute involved." (Points and Authorities in Response To Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Informations on Grounds of Selective and Discriminatory Prosecution, June 29, 1981, at 3] The Government explained:
To prevail on this motion, then, defendants must show either 1) that individuals holding views on abortion and women's rights such as their own have been consistently prosecuted for conducting demonstrations and protests during Congressional proceedings that were no more disruptive than those for which individuals holding contrary views have not been prosecuted; or 2) that this case is in the nature of a pretextual prosecution by the Government to punish these defendants for activities outside of Hearing
Room 1202 on April 23, 1981. [Id. at 4] According to the Government, the defendants' allegations in this case fell "far short” of the cognizable ones necessary for their motion to be granted. The fact that there might have been few prosecutions under the relevant criminal statute did not, asserted the Government, constitute a denial of equal protection, since even the defendants had concluded that mere laxity in law enforcement did not amount to a constitutional violation. Further, the Government maintained, the political views or conduct of the hearings by Chairman East were equally irrelevant:
[T]he Government submits that the applicability of D.C. Code $ 9-123 and the duty of the United States Capitol Police and the United States Attorney to enforce the law do not depend on the political persuasions of the chairman or the even-handedness of the hearing. A committee chairman determined to present a completely one-sided slate of witnesses is still under the law entitled to do so in an orderly fashion.
Even if it could be expected that a committee chairman, being human, might have opposing demonstrators cleared from the room more quickly than those rising to applaud his efforts, not Senator East but the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia has brought this prosecution. It is any potentially discriminatory conduct on the part of this office which must be the principal focus of cog
nizable allegations of selective prosecution. (Id. at 5) Finally, the Government disputed the proposition that since the Capitol Police arresting officers acted upon the complaint of Senator East, his motives were relevant:
[E]ven accepting the . . . defendants' assumption that the
The police have, and indeed must have, broad
pattern of general enforcement." at 30.