The First Department, in this civil investigation by the Office of Attorney General (OAG) into whether the respondent Trump Organization committed fraud in their financial practices and disclosure, Supreme Court properly refused to quash the OAG’s subpoenas seeking depositions and documents. The fact that there is also a criminal investigation does preclude civil discovery:
The existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts, at which a party may exercise the privilege against self-incrimination … .. Individuals have no constitutional or statutory right to be called to testify before a grand jury under circumstances that would give them immunity from prosecution for any matter about which they testify; although subjects of a grand jury proceeding have a statutory right to appear and testify, this right is conditioned upon the witness waiving the right to immunity and giving up the privilege against self-incrimination (CPL 190.50 …). The political campaign and other public statements made by OAG about appellants do not support the claim that OAG initiated, or is using, the subpoenas in this civil investigation to obtain testimony solely for use in a criminal proceeding or in a manner that would otherwise improperly undermine appellants’ privilege against self-incrimination … . Neither does the record suggest that, in the absence of a civil investigation, OAG would be likely to grant immunity to appellants — the primary subjects of the criminal investigation — to secure their grand jury testimony. Thus, the subpoenas did not frustrate any right to testify with immunity. Matter of People of the State of New York v Trump Org., Inc., 2022 NY Slip Op 03456, First Dept 5-26-22
Practice Point: This case stems from the Office of Attorney General’s (OAG’s) fraud investigation of the Trump Organization. Supreme Court properly refused to quash the OAG’s subpoenas. The fact that there is a related criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery. There was no showing the appellants’ privilege against self-incrimination was being undermined by the subpoenas seeking depositions and documents.