861.20211 Gubitchev, Valentine/8–149

The Acting Attorney General (Ford) to the Secretary of State


My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have your letter of July 21, 1949, your Reference UNI, regarding the postponement until October 17 of the trial of Valentine A. Gubitchev, on charges of espionage in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

It is true that several months will have elapsed between the date of Gubitchev’s arrest and the date of his trial. However, as you know, the case against the codefendant Judith Coplon in Washington, D.C., came to trial first. Although it commenced on April 25, that trial consumed [Page 795] sumed eleven weeks and was not concluded until July1.1 Of course, proceedings in New York necessarily had to be deferred pending the conclusion of the Washington trial.

Immediately after Miss Coplon’s conviction in Washington Judge Bondy, of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, on his own initiative called a conference with counsel for the government and for Coplon, for the purpose of setting a date for the prosecution of both defendants in New York. The government requested an early trial and announced itself ready to proceed at any time. However, Judge Bondy stated that during the summer, and continuing through the entire month of September, only one judge at a time will be available to transact the entire business, both civil and criminal, of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. He said that hence a trial of this case would be impossible until some time in the fall. Counsel for Miss Coplon then asked Judge Bondy to designate the first Monday in November,2 while government counsel suggested the first Monday in October.3 Judge Bondy selected October 17.

It is, therefore, apparent that the court is wholly responsible for the October 17 trial date, and that this resulted from circumstances which were unavoidable. I, too, regret that the case could not have been disposed of as soon as the Washington trial was concluded but you realize, of course, that the delay was beyond the control of the Department of Justice.

With kind personal regards,


Peyton Ford
  1. At the close of her separate trial in Washington, Miss Coplon was sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage, but later on technical grounds she was held entitled to a new trial.
  2. November 7.
  3. October 3.