NEW YORK TIMES CO. V. JASCALEVICH, 439 U. S. 1317 (1978)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New York Times Co. v. Jascalevich, 439 U.S. 1317 (1978)

New York Times Co. v. Jascalevich

No. A-111

Decided August 1, 1978

439 U.S. 1317



This is an application for a stay of an order of the Supreme Court of New Jersey refusing to stay, except temporarily to permit this application, an order of the Superior Court of New Jersey holding applicants in civil contempt for refusing to obey a subpoena for documents that was issued at the behest of the defendant in the course of an ongoing murder trial and that the Superior Court refused to quash. [Footnote 1] Applicant Farber, a reporter for the New York Times, a newspaper, was committed to jail until he complied with the subpoena by submitting the requested documents for in camera inspection by the trial judge; and the New York Times Co., the corporation owning and controlling the newspaper, was ordered to pay $5,000 for each day of noncompliance with the subpoena. Both applicants were also found guilty of criminal contempt. On appeal to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, that court stayed the convictions for criminal contempt but refused to stay the civil contempt judgment. It did expedite the appellate proceedings, which are still pending. The Supreme Court of New Jersey, in turn, refused to stay the Superior Court's judgment and to take immediate jurisdiction of the appeal. chanrobles.com-red

Page 439 U. S. 1318

This application for stay, which then followed, was addressed to MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, but, upon his recusal, was referred to me at 11 a.m. on July 28. Because the stay entered by the New Jersey Supreme Court would otherwise have expired an hour later, a temporary stay was entered to permit an examination of the somewhat voluminous papers filed in support of the application and to consider a response which was requested from respondent.

There is an initial question of the jurisdiction of an individual Justice or of the Court to enter a stay in circumstances such as these. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2101(f), a stay is authorized only if the judgment sought to be stayed is final and is subject to review by the Supreme Court on writ of certiorari. [Footnote 2] Whether a state court judgment is subject to review by the Supreme Court on writ of certiorari is, in turn, governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1257, which provides that we have jurisdiction to review "[f]inal judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had. . . ." Also, it is only final judgments with respect to issues of federal law that provide the basis for our appellate jurisdiction with respect to state court cases.