Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

United States v. Nixon

Supreme Court of the United States

July 8, 1974, Argued ; July 24, 1974, Decided 1

No. 73-1766


 [*686]   [***1051]   [**3096]  MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

 This litigation presents for review the denial of a motion, filed in the District Court on behalf of the President of the United States, in the case of United States v. Mitchell (D. C. Crim. No. 74-110), to quash a third-party [****8]  subpoena duces tecum issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, pursuant to Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 17 (c). The subpoena directed the President to produce certain tape recordings and documents relating to his conversations with aides and advisers.  The court rejected the President's claims of absolute executive privilege, of lack of jurisdiction, and of failure to satisfy the requirements of  [**3097]  Rule 17 (c). The President appealed to the Court of Appeals. We granted both the United States' petition for certiorari before judgment (No. 73-1766), 3 [****9]  and also the President's cross-petition for certiorari  [*687]  before judgment (No. 73-1834), 4  [***1052]  because of the public importance of the issues presented and the need for their prompt resolution. 417 U.S. 927 and 960 (1974).

On March 1, 1974, a grand jury of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia returned an indictment charging seven named individuals 5 with various offenses, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and to obstruct justice. Although he was not designated as such in the indictment, the grand jury named the President, among others,  [****10]  as an unindicted coconspirator. 6 [****12]  On April 18, 1974, upon motion of the Special  [*688]  Prosecutor, see n. 8, infra, a subpoena duces tecum was issued pursuant to Rule 17 (c) to the President by the United States District Court and made returnable on May 2, 1974. This subpoena required the production, in advance of the September 9 trial date, of certain tapes, memoranda, papers, transcripts, or other writings relating to certain precisely identified meetings between the President and others. 7 The Special Prosecutor was able to fix the time, place, and persons present at these discussions because the White House daily logs and appointment records had been delivered to him. On April 30, the President publicly released edited transcripts of 43 conversations; portions of 20 conversations subject to subpoena in the present case were included. On May 1, 1974, the President's counsel filed a "special appearance" and a motion to quash the subpoena under Rule 17 (c). This motion was accompanied by a formal claim of privilege. At a subsequent  [**3098]  hearing, 8 further motions to expunge the grand jury's action  [***1053]  naming the President as an unindicted coconspirator [****11]  and for protective orders against the disclosure of that information were filed or raised orally by counsel for the President.

On May 20, 1974, the District Court denied the motion to quash and the motions to expunge and for protective orders. 377 F.Supp. 1326. It further ordered "the President or any subordinate officer, official, or employee with custody or control of the documents or  [*689]  objects subpoenaed," id., at 1331, to deliver to the District Court, on or before May 31, 1974, the originals of all subpoenaed items, as well as an index and analysis of those items, together with tape copies of those portions of the subpoenaed recordings for which transcripts had been released to the public by the President on April 30.  The District Court rejected jurisdictional challenges based on a contention that the dispute was nonjusticiable because it was between the [****13]  Special Prosecutor and the Chief Executive and hence "intra-executive" in character; it also rejected the contention that the Judiciary was without authority to review an assertion of executive privilege by the President.  The court's rejection of the first challenge was based on the authority and powers vested in the Special Prosecutor by the regulation promulgated by the Attorney General; the court concluded that a justiciable controversy was presented. The second challenge was held to be foreclosed by the decision in Nixon v. Sirica, 159 U. S. App. D. C. 58, 487 F.2d 700 (1973).

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

418 U.S. 683 *; 94 S. Ct. 3090 **; 41 L. Ed. 2d 1039 ***; 1974 U.S. LEXIS 93 ****



Disposition:  No. 73-1766, 377 F.Supp. 1326, affirmed; No. 73-1834, certiorari dismissed as improvidently granted.


subpoena, district court, confidentiality, communications, conversations, powers, regulation, courts, tapes, claim of privilege, criminal case, disclosure, criminal prosecution, subpoena duces tecum, Appeals, in camera, coconspirator, inspection, privileged, deference, delegated, documents, parties, cases, criminal justice, declarations, justiciable, executive privilege, criminal trial, grand jury

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Final Judgment Rule, Criminal Law & Procedure, Discovery & Inspection, Discovery by Government, General Overview, Interlocutory Appeals, Discovery, Misconduct During Discovery, Motions to Compel, Interlocutory Orders, Justiciability, Case & Controversy Requirements, Constitutional Law, The Judiciary, Case or Controversy, Political Questions, Administrative Law, Separation of Powers, Executive Controls, Counsel, Prosecutors, Governments, Federal Government, Executive Offices, Witnesses, Subpoenas, Challenges & Modifications, Discovery by Defendant, Tangible Objects, Scope of Disclosure, Discovery, Scope, Inchoate Crimes, Conspiracy, Elements, Evidence, Exemptions, Statements by Coconspirators, Admissibility, Demonstrative Evidence, Hearsay, Credibility of Declarants, Impeachment, Trials, Judicial Discretion, Standards of Review, Harmless & Invited Error, Jury Trials, Province of Court & Jury, Privileges, Government Privileges, Executive Privilege, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Congressional Duties & Powers, Separation of Powers, The Presidency, Speech & Debate Immunity, Procedural Matters, Torts, Public Entity Liability, Immunities, Judicial Immunity, State Secrets Privilege, Privileges, Domestic Security, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Compulsory Process, Defendant's Rights, Right to Confrontation, Substantive Due Process