Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Blakey, No. 19-2769 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission settled a civil action against Kraft. The consent decree includes a provision: Neither party shall make any public statement about this case other than to refer to the terms of this settlement agreement or public documents filed in this case, except any party may take any lawful position in any legal proceedings, testimony or by court order. The Commission issued a press release announcing the suit’s resolution. Kraft asked the judge to hold the Commission and Commissioners in contempt of court for issuing the press release and concurring statements. The judge scheduled a hearing and directed Chairman Tarbert, two Commissioners, the Commission’s Director of Enforcement, and other employees to appear and testify under oath. The judge stated that he would administer Miranda warnings to these witnesses in preparation for a finding of criminal contempt and would demand that the witnesses explain the thinking behind the press release and the separate statements. The Seventh Circuit granted mandamus relief, in part. There is neither need nor justification for testimony by the Chairman, any Commissioners, or any members of the agency’s staff. Under 7 U.S.C. 2(a)(10)(C), every member of the Commission has a right to publish an explanation of his vote, so the consent decree could not operate to silence individual Commission members. The court declined to order the district court to close the contempt proceeding.