CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL, ET AL. v. CULT AWARENESS NETWORK
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
March 23, 1998, Decided
Petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Illinois denied.
There is a distinction in the law between the enforcement of discovery orders directed at parties and the enforcement of discovery orders directed at disinterested third parties, but that distinction derives from concerns regarding finality, not mootness. As a general rule, a district court's order enforcing a discovery request is not a "final order" subject to appellate review. A party that seeks to present an objection to a discovery order immediately to a court of appeals must refuse compliance, be held in contempt, and then appeal the contempt order. See United States v. Ryan, 402 U.S. 530, 29 L. Ed. 2d 85, 91 S. Ct. 1580 (1971). However, under the so-called Perlman doctrine, see Perlman v. United States, 247 U.S. 7, 62 L. Ed. 950, 38 S. Ct. 417 (1918), a discovery order directed at a disinterested third party is treated as an immediately appealable final order because the third party presumably lacks a sufficient stake in the proceeding to risk contempt by refusing compliance. Ibid. See generally 15B C. Wright, A. Miller, & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3914.23, pp. 156-167 (2d ed. 1992). This distinction has no bearing on this case because a district court order enforcing an IRS summons is an appealable final order. See Reisman v. Caplin, 375 U.S. 440, 11 L. Ed. 2d 459, 84 S. Ct. 508 (1964). There is no "third-party exception" because there is no general rule barring immediate appeal of IRS summons enforcement orders.