Circuit Clarifies Appealability of Refusal to Quash Subpoena

, New York Law Journal


A Long Island pediatrician accused of sexually abusing young female patients cannot appeal a judge's refusal to quash subpoenas directed to the doctor's adult children.

Rakesh Punn of Bethpage, who is accused in some cases of drugging young girls and filming them, had claimed that prosecutors subpoenaed his children for the purpose of aiding the government in preparation for trial and were therefore abusing the grand jury process.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday said that such orders are not immediately appealable, and used the case of United States v. Punn, 13-2780-cv, to bring some clarity to the circuit's law on the issue.

"Although this Court has addressed this issue on a number of occasions, our case law does not reflect a uniform approach to addressing that question, or a consistent answer," the court said.

In 2010, Punn's adult children, Sippy and Jesse Punn gave the Nassau County District Attorney's Office information their father may have been involved in unlawful surveillance, child pornography and health care fraud, and both went on to testify before Nassau County grand juries.

Then as a result of a parallel investigation by the Eastern District U.S. Attorney's office Punn was indicted in the Eastern District in 2012 on seven counts of sexual exploitation of children and 29 counts of health care fraud. The indictment charged that he created sexually explicit photos and videos and submitted phony insurance claims for medical procedures and consultations that had nothing to do with medicine.

On March 4, 2013, Punn filed pretrial motions seeking to suppress evidence seized from a search of his home.

On May 6, Sippy and Jesse Punn received subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury. The children and their father moved separately before Eastern District Judge Joanna Seybert (See Profile) to quash the subpoenas.

Seybert denied both motions to quash and Rakesh Punn appealed to the Second Circuit. The children declined to appeal.

Judges Rosemary Pooler (See Profile), Gerard Lynch (See Profile) and Christopher Droney (See Profile) heard oral argument on Oct. 3, when Punn argued that he had standing to challenge the subpoenas because they were issued for the improper purpose of allowing the government to prepare for trial on an already pending indictment by gathering evidence and interviewing Sippy and Jesse Punn, who were potential defense witnesses.

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