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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Hollywood Motor Car Co., Inc., 458 U.S. 263 (1982)

United States v. Hollywood Motor Car Co., Inc.

No. 81-1144

Decided June 28, 1982

458 U.S. 263


After respondents, originally indicted on two federal criminal counts in the Eastern District of Kentucky, obtained a change of venue to the Central District of California, the Government secured a superseding indictment which added four new counts. The Government then obtained a voluntary dismissal of three of the counts (including one of the original counts), and respondents moved to dismiss the remaining counts on the ground that the superseding indictment manifested prosecutorial vindictiveness in retaliation for their exercising their right to a change of venue, and thus ran afoul of the rule announced in Blackledge v. Perry, 417 U. S. 21. The District Court denied the motion, but stayed the trial to permit an appeal. The Court of Appeals held that the denial of the motion to dismiss was immediately appealable as a "final decision" under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and that respondents had established a case of prosecutorial vindictiveness requiring dismissal of the superseding indictment.

Held: The Court of Appeals was without jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 to review the District Court's interlocutory order refusing to dismiss the indictment. The policy embodied in § 1291 is inimical to piecemeal appellate review of trial court decisions that do not terminate the litigation, and this policy is at its strongest in the field of criminal law. Respondents' claim of prosecutorial vindictiveness does not fall within the narrow group of claims coming within the "collateral order" exception to § 1291's rule of finality. Stack v. Boyle, 342 U. S. 1; Abney v. United States, 431 U. S. 651; and Helstoski v. Meanor, 442 U. S. 500, distinguished. A claim of prosecutorial vindictiveness does not meet the test under such exception of being "effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment." Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U. S. 463, 437 U. S. 468. Cf. United States v. MacDonald, 435 U. S. 850.

Certiorari granted; 646 F.2d 384, reversed.

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