MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, acting pursuant to its authority under § 20 (a) of the Securities Act of 1933, 48 Stat. 74, 86, 15 U.S.C. § 77t, issued orders directing an investigation to determine whether Penfield Company had violated the Act in the sale of stock or other securities. In the course of that investigation it directed a subpoena duces tecum to Young, as an officer of Penfield, requiring him to produce certain books of the corporation covering a four year period ending in April, 1943. See § 19 (b) of the Act. Upon Young's refusal to appear and produce the books and records, the Commission filed an application with the District Court for an order enforcing the subpoena.
First. It is argued that since no application for an allowance of an appeal was made, the Circuit Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction to entertain it.
The Act gives the Commission authority to require the production of books and records in the course of its investigations.
Where a judgment of contempt is embodied in a single order which contains an admixture of criminal and civil elements, the criminal aspect of the order fixes its character for purposes of procedure on review. Union Tool Co. v. Wilson, 259 U.S. 107. But there was no such admixture here. The District Court refused to grant any remedial relief to the Commission. The denial of that relief was the ground of the Commission's appeal. The order of denial being final, was appealable, Lamb v. Cramer, supra, pp. 220-221, and the right to appeal from it was in no way dependent on an appeal from the imposition of the fine.
Second. The question on the merits is two-fold: (1) whether the Circuit Court of Appeals erred in granting the Commission remedial relief by directing that Young be required to produce the documents; and (2) whether that court exceeded its authority in reversing the judgment which imposed the fine and in substituting a term of imprisonment conditioned on continuance of the contempt.
As we have already noted, the Act requires the production of documents demanded pursuant to lawful orders of the Commission and lends judicial aid to obtain them. There is no basis in the record before us for saying that
When the Circuit Court of Appeals substituted imprisonment for the fine, it put a civil remedy in the place of a criminal punishment. For the imprisonment authorized would be suffered only if the documents were not produced or would continue only so long as Young was recalcitrant. On the other hand, the fine imposed by the District Court, unlike that involved in Fox v. Capital Co.,
As already noted, Young did not appeal from the order holding him in contempt and subjecting him to a fine. Young maintains, however, that once the fine was imposed and paid, the jurisdiction of the court was exhausted; that the Circuit Court of Appeals was without authority to substitute another penalty or to add to the one already imposed and satisfied. That argument rests on the statute granting federal courts the power to punish contempts of their authority, Judicial Code § 268, 28 U.S.C. § 385, and the decisions construing it. The statute gives the federal courts power "to punish, by fine or imprisonment, at the discretion of the court, contempts of their authority," including violations of their lawful orders. At least in a criminal contempt proceeding both fine and imprisonment may not be imposed since the statute provides alternative penalties. In re Bradley, 318 U.S. 50. Hence if a fine is imposed on a contemnor and he pays it, the sentence may not thereafter be amended so as to provide for imprisonment. The argument here is that after a fine for criminal contempt is paid, imprisonment may not be added to, or substituted for the fine, as a coercive sanction in a civil contempt proceeding. If that position is sound, then the statutory limitation of "fine or imprisonment" would preclude a court from imposing a fine as a punitive measure and imprisonment as a remedial measure, or vice versa.
The dual function of contempt has long been recognized — (1) vindication of the public interest by punishment of contemptuous conduct; (2) coercion to compel the contemnor to do what the law requires of him. Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., supra, pp. 441 et seq. United States v. United Mine Workers, supra, p. 302.
We assume, arguendo, that the statute allowing fine or imprisonment governs civil as well as criminal contempt proceedings. If the statute is so construed, we find in it no barrier to the imposition of both a fine as a punitive exaction and imprisonment as a coercive sanction, or vice versa.
Young raises objections that go to the merits of the judgment of contempt. These were considered and determined against him by the District Court. Since he did not appeal from that adverse judgment, he is precluded from renewing the objections at this stage. Le Tulle v. Scofield, 308 U.S. 415, 421-422; Helvering v. Pfeiffer, 302 U.S. 247, 250-251.
MR. JUSTICE RUTLEDGE, concurring.
But for the decision in United States v. United Mine Workers, 330 U.S. 258, I should have no difficulty in concluding with the Court that this contempt proceeding was exclusively civil in character and that, consequently, no criminal penalty could be imposed, coercive relief alone being allowable in such a case. Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418.
By every test applied in the Gompers case this proceeding was civil, not criminal in character. Here as there the proceeding was entitled, instituted and conducted as collateral to civil litigation. It sought only remedial relief, namely, the production of specified books and records.
This act, like the act of disobedience in the Gompers case, constituted conduct which would have sustained either civil or criminal penalty in appropriate proceedings. But the unequivocal ruling of that case was that criminal penalties cannot be applied in civil contempt proceedings. 221 U.S. at 444, 449, 451-452. Not only the result, but the whole tenor of the opinion was to the effect that the character of the proceeding as a whole, whether as civil or criminal, must be correlated with the character of the penalty imposed, and that the two cannot be scrambled, regardless of the fact that the conduct constituting the contempt would support the imposition of either type of relief in a proceeding appropriate to the kind of relief given.
Hence, under the rule of the Gompers case and others following it, it is clear that the district judge had no power in this case to impose the criminal penalty of a flat $50 fine and it is equally clear, on the record,
Moreover, I think it is clear that both of these problems are presented for our determination on the state of the record here. It is true that Young did not appeal from the District Court's judgment to the Circuit Court of Appeals, and that he paid the fine. But the Commission appealed from the judgment in its entirety, as it had a right to do,
The only difference is that in the Gompers case the contemnors had not entered upon the service of the void criminal sentence of imprisonment but appealed from it, while here Young paid the fine and did not appeal. That action on his part, however, cannot oust the Commission of its statutory right of appeal and review or of its right to civil relief.
In short, the Commission was forced to appeal from the judgment rendered, if it was not to acquiesce in what the court had done and thereby suffer unauthorized thwarting of its statutory investigating power. That judgment was rightfully taken in its entirety to the Circuit Court of Appeals, was reviewed by that court, and was reversed not partially but completely.
Since I am in agreement with the Court's view that the Gompers ruling and others in accord with it are controlling in this case, I think the judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals should be affirmed, though with modification in one respect.
If in that case a single mixed proceeding could suffice without regard to the requirements of Rule 42 (b) and the
It is true that if the proceeding is to be taken as having been both civil and criminal a serious question would be presented on the terms of § 268 of the Judicial Code whether imposition and payment of the fine here did not exhaust judicial power to deal further with the proceeding, more especially in its criminal phase.
It is also true that in this case the United States was not a party by that name, as it was in the Mine Workers case, to the civil litigation in which the contempt proceeding arose or to the contempt proceeding itself. But the Commission was the moving party in both, representative as such of the public interest as the trial court pointed out.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, since the Court rests the decision in this cause upon the Gompers rule, which in my opinion represents the settled law, I join in the affirmance of the judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals, both insofar as it reversed the District Court's judgment because of the denial of coercive relief and in relation to its reversal of the criminal penalty imposed by the District Court.
But, while there can be no question of the Court of Appeals' power in proper cases to review and revise civil relief given in the District Court, in this case no such relief had been awarded. In my opinion the question of the character and scope of that relief was a matter, in the first instance, for the District Court's judgment rather than for the Court of Appeals. Accordingly, I would modify the judgment of reversal in the civil phase so that the cause would be remanded to the District Court with directions to exercise its discretion in framing the relief adequate and appropriate to make effective the Commission's right to disclosure.
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, with whom concurs MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, dissenting.
Beginning with the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887, it became a conventional feature of Congressional regulatory legislation to give administrative agencies authority to issue subpoenas for relevant information. Congress has never attempted, however, to confer upon an administrative agency itself the power to compel obedience to such a subpoena. It is beside the point to consider
Instead of authorizing agencies to enforce their subpoenas, Congress has required them to resort to the courts for enforcement. In the discharge of that duty courts act as courts and not as administrative adjuncts. The power of Congress to impose on courts the duty of enforcing obedience to an administrative subpoena was sustained precisely because courts were not to be automata carrying out the wishes of the administrative. They were discharging judicial power with all the implications of the judicial function in our constitutional scheme. Interstate Commerce Commission v. Brimson, 154 U.S. 447; 155 U.S. 3. Accordingly, an order directing obedience to a subpoena by the Securities and Exchange Commission, like a subpoena of any other federal agency, does not issue as a matter of course. An administrative subpoena may be contested on the ground that it exceeds the bounds set by the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure; that the inquiry is outside the scope of the authority delegated to the agency; that the testimony sought to be elicited is irrelevant to the subject matter of the inquiry; that the person to whom it is directed cannot be held responsible for the production of the papers. See Interstate Commerce Commission v. Brimson, supra, at 479 and 489; Harriman v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 211 U.S. 407; Ellis v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 237 U.S. 434; Smith v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 245 U.S. 33; Federal Trade Commission v. American Tobacco Co., 264 U.S. 298; Oklahoma Press Publishing Co. v. Walling, 327 U.S. 186. And see Lilienthal, The Power to Compel Testimony, 39 Harv. L. Rev. 694.
The District Court found petitioner Young guilty of contempt of court for disobedience of its order of June 1, 1943, requiring the production of records called for by the subpoena issued by the S.E.C. But the Court refused the Government's request to impose a contingent punishment to secure production of the records. Instead, it sentenced Young to the payment of a fine of $50. Without objection Young paid this fine, and consistently thereafter maintained that by such payment judicial power had exhausted itself. See In re Bradley, 318 U.S. 50. The Government appealed from this disposition by the District Court on the ground that the District Court, having adjudged Young to be in contempt, erred in ordering Young to pay a fine of $50 and stand committed until the fine was paid, instead of imposing
The judgment immediately before us is that of the Circuit Court of Appeals setting aside the fine imposed by the District Court and reversing its refusal to issue a coercive order. The ultimate question is the correctness of what the District Court did and what it refused to do. It is essential therefore to focus attention on the precise circumstances in which the District Court acted as it did. This is what the record tells us:
Bearing in mind that the District Court was not an automaton which must unquestioningly compel obedience to a subpoena simply because the Commission had issued it, we must consider whether the District Court had abused the fair limits of judicial discretion. If a district court believes that howsoever relevant a demand for documents may have been at the time it was made, circumstances had rendered the subpoena obsolete, it is entitled to consider the merits of the subpoena as of the time that its enforcement is sought and not as of the time that it was issued. The above colloquy means nothing unless it means that Judge Hall was of the view that events had apparently rendered needless the call from Young for the
On the record before us, Judge Hall exercised allowable discretion in finding that the subpoena had spent its force, and in concluding not to compel obedience to it. At the same time, he was justified in finding that because Young had disobeyed the subpoena while it was still alive, he
The question, then, is whether the Court could impose what constituted a fine for criminal contempt, that is, to vindicate the law as such, without a formal pleading charging Young with such disobedience. We do not think Judge Hall had to direct the clerk to issue an attachment against Young to inform him of that which he obviously knew and which the proceedings had made abundantly clear to him. The true significance of our opinion in United States v. United Mine Workers, 330 U.S. 258, as we understand it, is that contempt proceedings are sui generis and should be treated as such in their practical incidence. They are not to be circumscribed by procedural formalities, or by traditional limitations of what are ordinarily called crimes, except insofar as due process of law and the other standards of decency and fairness in the administration of federal justice may require. On this record we find not the faintest denial of any safeguard or of appropriate procedural protection.
We think the judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals should be reversed and that of the District Court reinstated.
The rule did not become effective until March 21, 1946, hence was not applicable to the present proceeding which was instituted and concluded in the trial court prior to that date.
The court made no finding that the subpoena's function had been exhausted. The only reason assigned for refusing civil relief was that the court had sat in the criminal trial for six weeks during which it had "listened to books and records," as well as witnesses produced "from all over the United States in connection with the Penfield matter." Taking judicial notice of its own proceedings, the court said: ". . . in that trial the evidence was dear and definite . . . that during one period of time this defendant [Young] had nothing whatsoever to do with the Penfield Company." These grounds, of course, were not the equivalent of finding that the records covered by the subpoena had been produced or that the Commission had no power or valid reason for pursuing its statutory investigation through the subpoena beyond the confines of the closed criminal trial.
The Bradley case therefore presented no question of the applicability of § 268 in civil contempt proceedings or of its effect if applicable. Compare the majority and concurring opinions in In re Sixth & Wisconsin Tower, Inc., 108 F.2d 538. It cannot be taken as having ruled that the court's invalid imposition of criminal punishment in civil contempt proceedings or satisfaction of such a void sentence exhausts either the trial court's power or that of an appellate court on review to deal with the civil contempt by affording civil relief or to avoid the invalid criminal judgment.
Whether or not § 268, if applicable to a so-called mixed civil-criminal contempt proceeding, would forbid the imposition of relief both by way of fine and imprisonment, one punitive, the other coercive and remedial, need not be considered in view of the holding that this proceeding was exclusively civil in character.
The notice of appeal filed in the District Court is not set forth in the printed record here. But the "Statement of Points on Which the Appellant Intends to Rely," filed in the Court of Appeals, specifies that "the District Court erred in ordering Young to pay a fine of $50.00 instead of imposing a remedial penalty calculated to coerce Young to produce or allow inspection of the books and records. . . ."
In this state of the record it cannot be taken that the appeal and the judgment of the Court of Appeals did not comprehend the criminal penalty.