MIDLAND ASPHALT CORP. V. U.S., 489 U. S. 794 (1989)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Midland Asphalt Corp. v. U.S., 489 U.S. 794 (1989)

Midland Asphalt Corp. v. United States

No. 87-1905

Argued January 17, 1989

Decided March 28, 1989

489 U.S. 794


Petitioners moved to dismiss a federal indictment against them on the ground, inter alia, that the prosecution had violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)(2) -- which generally prohibits public disclosure by Government attorneys of "matters occurring before the grand jury" -- by filing, in a separate criminal case, a memorandum disclosing matters before the grand jury in this case. After the District Court denied the motion, the Court of Appeals granted the Government's motion to dismiss petitioners' appeal for lack of jurisdiction on the ground that the District Court's order was not an immediately appealable "final decision" under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. The court rejected petitioners' contention that United States v. Mechanik, 475 U. S. 66, which held that an alleged violation of Rule 6(d) was rendered harmless beyond a reasonable doubt by a petit jury's guilty verdict, would render orders of this sort "effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment," Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U. S. 463, 437 U. S. 468, and immediately appealable under the collateral order exception to the final judgment rule.

Held: A district court order denying a defendant's motion to dismiss an indictment for an alleged violation of Rule 6(e) is not immediately appealable under § 1291. Since petitioners have not yet been sentenced, the District Court's order is not a final judgment ending the litigation on the merits. Moreover, whatever view is taken of the scope of Mechanik (an issue not resolved here), an order such as that at issue does not satisfy the stringent requirements of the Coopers v. Lybrand test. There is no merit in petitioners' contention that such orders are "effectively unreviewable" once trial has been held because they pertain to a right not merely not to be convicted, but a right not to be tried at all. Neither the text of Rule 6(e) nor the Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment affords a right not to be tried (in the sense relevant for the collateral order doctrine) in the event of a violation of grand jury secrecy. Pp. 489 U. S. 798-802.

840 F.2d 1040, affirmed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 489 U. S. 795

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