The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was investigating Thomas Collins for possible civil violations of the federal Commodity Exchange Act. Among the violations of which Collins was suspected was the trading of commodities futures contracts other than on a commodities exchange. The CFTC's staff suspected that these trades were spurious trades, which (the staff theorized) were intended to enable Collins to reallocate losses to persons who would reap the maximum tax benefits from the losses. As part of this investigation, the CFTC issued a subpoena directing Collins to produce copies of his federal income tax returns for examination by the CFTC's staff. The staff's reasoning was that the presence of tax motives would be evidence of a likely violation of rules enforced by the CFTC. Collins resisted the subpoena on the ground that it would force him to incriminate himself. Collins argued that the tax returns contained information that could be evidence-or could lead to evidence-of felony violations of federal law. The CFTC argued that the tax returns were required records and that compelling their disclosure therefore would not violate the Fifth Amendment. (See Chapter 5's discussion of the required-records doctrine, which operates to eliminate Fifth Amendment privilege claims regarding the contents of such records.) A federal district court agreed with the CFTC and entered an enforcement order requiring Collins to obey the subpoena.
Collins appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, renewing his Fifth Amendment arguments and further contending that for public policy reasons, the subpoena should not be enforceable against him. How did the Seventh Circuit rule?

  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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