United States v. Kordel

397 U.S. 1 (1970)


Ds are president and vice-president of Detroit Vital Foods, Inc. Ds were tried and convicted along with the corporation, for violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA investigated Ds for possible violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. FDA recommended a civil seizure of two of the products, 'Korleen' and 'Frutex.' The FDA then asked the United States Attorney to commence an in rem action against these products of the corporation, and the United States Attorney filed a libel three days later. The corporation answered the libel. FDA prepared extensive interrogatories to be served on the corporation in this civil action. Having received the FDA's interrogatories but not yet having answered them, D moved to stay further proceedings in the civil action or, in the alternative, to extend the time to answer the interrogatories until after disposition of the criminal proceeding signaled by a § 305 notice. The District Court denied the motion upon finding that the corporation had failed to demonstrate that substantial prejudice and harm would result from being required to respond to the interrogatories. Eventually, a criminal prosecution was instituted. The civil case, still pending in the District Court, proceeded to settlement by way of a consent decree in November 1962, and, eight months later, the Government obtained the indictment underlying the present judgments of conviction. Ds were convicted and appealed. The Sixth Circuit reversed on grounds that D’s Fifth Amendment privilege of self-incrimination had been violated by dual proceedings. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.