JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)(2) prohibits public disclosure by Government attorneys of "matters occurring before the grand jury" except in certain specified circumstances. This case presents the question whether a district court order denying a criminal defendant's motion to dismiss an indictment for an alleged violation of Rule 6(e) is immediately appealable.
On January 23, 1987, a federal grand jury in the Western District of New York returned an indictment against petitioners Midland Asphalt Corporation, a business engaged in the sale of liquid bituminous material used to resurface roads, and Albert C. Litteer, Midland's president and part owner. The indictment alleged that they had violated § 1 of the Sherman Act, 26 Stat. 209, as amended, 15 U. S. C. § 1, by conspiring with other unindicted persons to allocate contracts and to submit collusive bids to the State of New York and certain counties in western New York. On July 21, 1987, petitioners moved to dismiss the indictment on grounds which included an alleged violation by federal prosecutors of Rule 6(e)(2).
Petitioners' Rule 6(e) allegations arose from the following facts: When the grand jury that ultimately returned the Sherman Act indictment was sitting, Midland and another company under investigation brought suit seeking to have the Government pay for the cost of compliance with grand jury subpoenas. In re Grand Jury Subpoenas to Midland Asphalt Corp. and Krantz Asphalt Co., Civ. No. 85-633E (WDNY, Feb. 12, 1985) (In re Grand Jury Subpoenas). In
Petitioners' motion to dismiss the indictment in the present case alleged that the Government's filing, in Allegany Bitumens, of its memorandum from the In re Grand Jury Subpoenas case, publicly "disclose[d] matters occurring before the grand jury" in violation of Rule 6(e)(2). Specifically, the motion alleged that the memorandum disclosed the nature and focus of the investigation, the name of a grand jury witness, and the fact that the witness was to testify as an individual and not as a document custodian for Midland. Finding that the prosecution had not violated Rule 6(e)(2), the District Court denied petitioners' motion to dismiss the indictment.
On appeal in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Government moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, contending that the District Court's order declining to dismiss the indictment was not a "final decision" under 28 U. S. C. § 1291. Petitioners responded that this Court's decision in United States v. Mechanik, 475 U.S. 66 (1986), in which we held that an alleged violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(d) was rendered harmless beyond a
We granted certiorari to resolve a disagreement among the Courts of Appeals.
In the Judiciary Act of 1789, 1 Stat. 73, the First Congress established the principle that only "final judgments and decrees" of the federal district courts may be reviewed on appeal. Id., at 84. The statute has changed little since then: 28 U. S. C. § 1291 today provides that federal courts of appeals "shall have jurisdiction of appeals from all final decisions of the district courts . . . except where a direct review may be had in the Supreme Court." For purposes of this provision, a final judgment is normally deemed not to have occurred "until there has been a decision by the District Court that `ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment.' " Van Cauwenberghe v. Biard, 486 U.S. 517, 521 (1988), quoting Catlin v. United States, 324 U.S. 229, 233 (1945). In criminal cases, this prohibits appellate review until after conviction and imposition of sentence. Flanagan v. United States, 465 U.S. 259, 263 (1984); Berman v. United States, 302 U.S. 211, 212 (1937). Since petitioners have not yet even been tried, much less convicted or sentenced, it is plain that the District Court's order denying their motion to dismiss falls within this prohibition.
In Cohen v. Beneficial Industrial Loan Corp., 337 U.S. 541 (1949), we carved out a narrow exception to the normal application of the final judgment rule, which has come to be known as the collateral order doctrine. This exception considers as "final judgments," even though they do not "end the litigation on the merits," decisions "which finally determine claims of right separate from, and collateral to, rights asserted in the action, too important to be denied review and too independent of the cause itself to require that appellate jurisdiction be deferred until the whole case is adjudicated."
We have interpreted the collateral order exception "with the utmost strictness" in criminal cases. Flanagan, supra, at 265. Although we have had numerous opportunities in the 40 years since Cohen to consider the appealability of prejudgment orders in criminal cases, we have found denials of only three types of motions to be immediately appealable: motions to reduce bail, Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1 (1951), motions to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds, Abney v. United States, 431 U.S. 651 (1977), and motions to dismiss under the Speech or Debate Clause, Helstoski v. Meanor, 442 U.S. 500 (1979). These decisions, along with the far more numerous ones in which we have refused to permit interlocutory appeals, manifest the general rule that the third prong of the Coopers & Lybrand test is satisfied only where the order at issue involves "an asserted right the legal and practical value of which would be destroyed if it were not vindicated before trial." United States v. MacDonald, 435 U.S. 850, 860 (1978).
We have little difficulty concluding that an order denying a motion to dismiss an indictment for an alleged violation of Rule 6(e) does not satisfy our "stringent conditions for qualification as an immediately appealable collateral order." Flanagan, supra, at 270. Whether a violation of Rule 6(e) will be reviewable on appeal following conviction, as the Court of Appeals below held, 840 F. 2d, at 1046, or will be rendered harmless as a matter of law by the conviction, as the Ninth Circuit has decided, United States v. Benjamin, 812 F.2d 548, 553 (1987), a district court order declining to dismiss an indictment for an alleged violation of the Rule fails one or the other of the final two requirements set out in
Petitioners attempt to avoid this reasoning by suggesting that orders of this sort, even if theoretically reviewable after conviction, are "effectively unreviewable," Coopers & Lybrand, supra, at 468, once trial has been held, because they pertain to a right "the . . . practical value of which [is] destroyed if it [is] not vindicated before trial," MacDonald, supra, at 860 — namely, the right not merely not to be convicted, but not to be tried at all "on an indictment returned by a grand jury whose decision to indict was substantially influenced by the government's violation of 6(e)." Brief for Petitioner 24. We do not agree. It is true that deprivation of the right not to be tried satisfies the Coopers & Lybrand
There is a "crucial distinction between a right not to be tried and a right whose remedy requires the dismissal of charges." United States v. Hollywood Motor Car Co., 458 U.S. 263, 269 (1982). A right not to be tried in the sense relevant to the Cohen exception rests upon an explicit statutory or constitutional guarantee that trial will not occur — as in the Double Jeopardy Clause ("nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb"), see Abney v. United States, supra, or the Speech or Debate Clause ("[F]or any Speech or Debate in either House, [the Senators and Representatives] shall not be questioned in any other Place"), see Helstoski v. Meanor, supra. Neither Rule 6(e) nor the Constitution affords such a guarantee in the event of a violation of grand jury secrecy.
As for the Grand Jury Clause of the Fifth Amendment, that reads in relevant part as follows: "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury." That does indeed confer a right not to be tried (in the pertinent sense) when there is no grand jury indictment. Undoubtedly the common-law protections traditionally associated with the grand jury attach to the grand jury required by this provision — including the requisite secrecy of grand jury proceedings. But that is far from saying that every violation of those protections, like the lack of a grand jury indictment itself, gives rise to a right not to be tried. We have held that even the grand jury's violation of the defendant's right against self-incrimination does not trigger the Grand Jury Clause's "right not to be tried." Lawn v. United States, 355 U.S. 339, 349 (1958). Only a defect so fundamental that it causes the grand jury no longer to be a grand jury, or the indictment no longer to be an indictment, gives rise to the constitutional right not to be tried. An isolated breach of the traditional secrecy requirements does not do so.
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For these reasons, the Court of Appeals was correct to grant the Government's motion to dismiss the appeal, and its judgment is