The United States Court of Appeals
Sixth Circuit

(Part 2 of 9)

We directed the parties to file briefs setting forth their views and arguments respecting the Special Master's report and set the matter for oral argument on September 3, 1993. Following full briefing and extended oral argument the matter was submitted for decision.


The master made findings of fact, largely based on credibility determinations, which absolved the government attorneys of deliberately and intentionally failing to disclose information that they considered exculpatory. Judge Wiseman also found that the various proceedings against Demjanjuk were not affected by political pressures from congressional sources and various Jewish groups in the United States. S.M. Report at 27-28. We are required to accept the master's findings of fact unless clearly erroneous. Fed. R. Civ. P. 53(e)(2).


The master considered six specific claims by Demjanjuk that acts and omissions of OSI attorneys described therein constituted prosecutorial misconduct or fraud on the court. These claims related to statements of various witnesses and a report of a Polish investigation that had come into OSI's possession. In each case the master found that government attorneys had failed to disclose or produce documents or other materials that should have been subject to disclosure or production under outstanding discovery requests and Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e).

In each instance, however, the master exonerated the government attorneys on one or more of the following findings: either that the attorneys did not believe the materials were within the scope of outstanding discovery requests; that they believed in good faith that the materials did not relate to Demjanjuk; or that a particular attorney then responsible for complying with requests was not aware of the existence of specified materials even though other attorneys who worked on the Demjanjuk cases did know of and had seen the materials.

In making these determinations, the master considered each of the six claims in light of the successive sets of interrogatories filed by Demjanjuk during the denaturalization proceedings. At the time he filed the first set of interrogatories Demjanjuk filed a request for production of documents and stated [*341] that both were to be treated as of a continuing nature. Question 2 of the first set of interrogatories asked whether a statement had been obtained from any person whose name and address had been sought in Question 1. The respondents argued that they had complied fully by providing names of persons who claimed to have any knowledge of Demjanjuk's alleged activities at Treblinka as requested in Question 1 of the first set. The master refused to accept the OSI attorneys' arguments, stating:

Thus, the defendant specifically asked for the names of all witnesses to the defendant's alleged actions, and whether statements had been obtained from those people. When read in conjunction with Mr. Demjanjuk's first request for production, he clearly had requested all witness statements.

S.M. Report at 165. Similarly, the master found that the government never supplied the names of several witnesses whose identity was required to be disclosed by Question 1.

Another set of interrogatories asked specifically about foreign government reports concerning activities of Ivan the Terrible at Treblinka. The previously described materials from the Polish investigation of the Treblinka atrocities were in the government's possession in 1979, but were not produced until 1982, after the conclusion of the denaturalization proceedings. This failure was an "oversight," according to one government attorney. S. M. Report at 171. Finally, and most significantly, as early as 1978 or 1979 the government had information from official sources within the Soviet Union indicating that there were two Ukrainian operators of the gas chambers at Treblinka-- Ivan and Nikolai--and that "Ivan Grozny" was a man named Ivan Marchenko, not Ivan Demjanjuk.


The master found some of the respondents' failures "excusable," some "inadvertent," and most to have resulted from the government attorneys' mistaken understanding of the scope of their duty of production under the discovery requests made by Demjanjuk. Judge Wiseman stated:

[A] careful reading of Mr. Demjanjuk's discovery requests demonstrates that he asked for virtually every piece of evidence that is at issue in these proceedings. As demonstrated, the government did not provide the evidence because it believed that it was under no duty to do so. The heart of the discovery problems, therefore, was a tragic misunderstanding.

S.M. Report at 204. Noting that no fewer than eight government attorneys worked on the Demjanjuk denaturalization case, the master blamed the misunderstanding with respect to the duty to disclose and produce materials on "the unstable and fractious character" of the prosecution team. The difficulties resulting from rivalries between OSI and the United States Attorney's office in Cleveland, and the frequent changes of attorneys assigned to the case were compounded, the master found, by the attitude of the government trial attorneys that "at times bordered on gamesmanship." S.M. Report at 205.

The master found that, in interpreting Demjanjuk's requests and interrogatories so narrowly, the government attorneys were "playing hardball." S.M. Report at 172. Judge Wiseman pointed out that when questions arose as to whether the later of two requests for information from foreign governments was redundant or inconsistent with the first request, the government attorneys had several options. They could have complied with the requests; they could have sought a protective order if they felt the requests were redundant or oppressive; or they could have contacted defense counsel by telephone for a clarification. As the master stated:

Each of these options would have had the advantage of providing the defense either with the requested information, or with notice of the misunderstanding. Although I believe that the consequences were unintended, the course they took -- silently imposing a limitation on the earlier interrogatory-- almost certainly misled [defense counsel] and endangered Mr. Demjanjuk's ability to mount a defense.

S.M. Report at 175.

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