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In re In re Grand Jury Proceedings U.S. Steel--Clairton Works

Citation: 6 ELR 20205
No. No. 75-1450, 525 F.2d 151/8 ERC 1702/(3d Cir., 10/20/1975)

The Court of Appeals vacates a lower court's stay of federal grand jury proceedings investigating possible violations of Pennsylvania's Clean Air Act implementation plan. The district court held the investigation could not proceed concurrently with state enforcement proceedings against the same polluter, U.S. Steel, based on these violations. The stay is appealable as a "final decision" within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291 since it was for an indefinite period of time and thus had the practical effect of a dismissal of the grand jury proceedings. While not expressly ruling on the validity of the district court's conclusion that Congress did not intend to allow concurrent federal and state enforcement under the Clean Air Act, the appeals court holds that the stay constituted an unwarranted encroachment on the plenary authority of a grand jury. At such an early stage of the grand jury's inquiry, the court notes, "the lower court could not possibly predict whether indictments would issue, or, if issued, against whom and for what violations." Reliance on the Clean Air Act as the basis for issuing the stay was therefore unfounded. The case is remanded and a writ of mandamus issued vacating the district court stay.

Counsel for Appellant
Richard L. Thornburgh
Edmund B. Clark
Bradford F. Whitman
John J. Zimmerman
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2601

Counsel for U.S. Steel Corp.
Walter R. McGough
Gilbert J. Helwig
J. Tomlinson Fort
Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay
P.O. Box 2009
Pittsburgh PA 15230
(412) 288-3131

Hunter, J. for himself, Adams & Van Dusen, JJ.