University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Philadelphia Resistance v. Mitchell FA-PA-0002
Docket / Court 71-1738 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
Currently, only two opinions regarding the discovery in this case are available electronically; the docket sheet and other documents are not.

On March 8 and 9, 1971, a burglary took place at the Offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) in Media, Pennsylvania. Several ... read more >
Currently, only two opinions regarding the discovery in this case are available electronically; the docket sheet and other documents are not.

On March 8 and 9, 1971, a burglary took place at the Offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) in Media, Pennsylvania. Several government documents were stolen during the burglary and later disseminated to media. According to Ivan Greenberg, The Dangers of Dissent, disclosure of the materials helped lead to the end of Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). After the burglary, the F.B.I. conducted an investigation which included the surveillance of the plaintiffs (although in the end nobody was charged). The F.B.I. claimed that the investigation served valid law enforcement purposes; the plaintiffs in this case alleged that the investigation constituted illegal harassment.

The anti-war groups subsequently filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against then-Attorney General of the United States Mitchell and then-F.B.I. director Hoover in 1971. Represented by private counsel, they sought declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief, accusing the defendants of illegal and unconstitutional surveillance, harassment and intimidation due to the groups' political ideology.

During the discovery, the plaintiffs submitted interrogatories to the defendants, who refused to answer by asserting investigatory, informer, and executive privilege. The defendants claimed that the plaintiffs were subject of a valid ongoing criminal investigation for law enforcement purposes. The plaintiffs moved to compel.

On August 3, 1972, the District Court (Judge Donald W. Van Artsdalen) ordered the defendants to produce the relevant investigation documents that supported their claim to the Court for an in camera inspection. Philadelphia Resistance v. Mitchell, 63 F.R.D. 125 (E.D. Pa. 1972). Upon inspection, the Judge Van Artsdalen concluded that the plaintiffs were subjects of a valid ongoing investigation for law enforcement purposes and that the defendants could properly assert their privilege.

On December 27, 1972, Judge Van Artsdalen examined individually the interrogatories to determine the applicability of the defendants' privilege. Philadelphia Resistance v. Mitchell, 58 F.R.D. 139 (E.D. Pa. 1972). He ordered the defendants to answer the interrogatories that were closely related to the surveillance at issue but not those that were highly sensitive and vital to public security.

The discovery proceedings in this case revealed crucial information about the F.B.I.'s unlawful searches and wiretapping, which led to two other closely related cases: Forsyth v. Kleindienst and Burkhart v. Saxbe.

We have only two discovery-related opinions in this matter, but according to a published newsletter ("First Principles: National Security and Civil Liberties,"), the parties settled the case in 1974 through a consent decree. The defendants agreed to pay the litigation costs and not to conduct any surveillance or harassment of the plaintiffs in the future. This ended the case.

Emma Bao - 07/09/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
False arrest
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action
Defendant(s) United States Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Anti-Vietnam war groups in Philadelphia subjected to the F.B.I.'s surveillance and harassment following the burglary of the F.B.I. office in Media, Pennsylvania.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1974 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1974
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Order 08/03/1972 (63 F.R.D. 125) (E.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Opinion and Order 12/27/1972 (58 F.R.D. 139) (E.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0002-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges VanArtsdalen, Donald West (E.D. Pa.)
FA-PA-0002-0001 | FA-PA-0002-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Rudovsky, David (Pennsylvania)
FA-PA-0002-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Burt, C. Oliver III (District of Columbia)
FA-PA-0002-0001
Straub, Peter T. (District of Columbia)
FA-PA-0002-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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