Rights of Persons Compelled to Appear in Federal Agency Investigational Hearings

By statutes designed to protect the public interest, many federal administrative agencies-such as the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Civil Aeronautics Board-are granted authority to conduct investigations dealing with substantive matters committed to their respective jurisdictions. In an increasing number of instances, these agencies are empowered to utilize compulsory process; persons may be ordered to appear and give testimony or to produce documents in so-called investigational hearings, subject to criminal sanctions for noncompliance. The use of investigational hearings by these agencies as an ancillary law enforcement tool would appear to be more widespread than at any previous time in the history of the “fourth branch of government.”