222 U.S. 139 (1911), 486, Glickstein v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 486
Citation:222 U.S. 139, 32 S.Ct. 71, 56 L.Ed. 128
Party Name:Glickstein v. United States
Case Date:December 04, 1911
Court:United States Supreme Court

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222 U.S. 139 (1911)

32 S.Ct. 71, 56 L.Ed. 128



United States

No. 486

United States Supreme Court

December 4, 1911

Submitted October 19, 1911




Subdivision 9 of § 7 of the Bankruptcy Act of 1898 and the immunity afforded by it are not applicable to a prosecution for perjury committed by the bankrupt when examined under it.

The constitutional guarantee of the Fifth Amendment does not deprive the lawmaking authority of the power to compel the giving of testimony, even though the testimony when given may serve to incriminate the witness, provided complete immunity be accorded.

The sanction of an oath and imposition of punishment for false swearing are inherent parts of the power to compel giving testimony, and are not prohibited by immunity as to self-incrimination.

The immunity afforded by the Fifth Amendment relates to the past; it is not a license to the person testifying to commit perjury either under the provisions as to the giving of testimony in § 860, Rev.Stat., or of the Bankruptcy Act of 1898.

The provisions in the Bankruptcy Act compelling testimony do not confer an immunity wider than that conferred by the Constitution itself.

A statute in regard to giving testimony which does not provide for prosecution for perjury will not be construed as permitting perjury because in other statutes in that regard Congress has, from abundant caution, inserted provisions as to prosecution for perjury.

Edelstein v. United States, 149 F. 636; Wechler v. United States, 158 F. 579, approved. In re Marx, 102 F. 679; In re Logan, 102 F. 876, disapproved.

The facts, which involve the construction of subdivision 9, § 7 of the Bankruptcy Act of 1898, are stated in the opinion.

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WHITE, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Glickstein, an adjudicated bankrupt, was indicted for perjury in having falsely sworn in the bankruptcy proceeding, while under examination before a referee, as required by the seventh section, subdiv. 9, of the Bankrupt Act of 1898. The indictment was demurred to on the following grounds:

(a) A prosecution for perjury against a bankrupt at a meeting of his creditors will not lie; (b) the indictment was based upon testimony given by the bankrupt, affecting the administration and settlement of his estate; (c) a person cannot be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.

At the trial which followed the overruling of the demurrer, the testimony of Glickstein which was the subject of the indictment was offered and objected to on the same grounds upon which the demurrer was based, and exceptions were taken to the admission of the testimony in evidence.

When the legality of a conviction and sentence of Glickstein was before the court below, as the result of error prosecuted by him, the court, stating the facts which we have recited, certified the following question: "Is subsec. 9 and the immunity afforded by it applicable to a prosecution for perjury committed by the bankrupt when examined under it?"

Section 7, subdiv. 9, which we are required to consider in order to solve the question, is as follows:

The bankrupt shall . . . (9) when present at the first meeting of his creditors, and at such other times as the court shall order, submit to an examination concerning the conducting of his business, the cause of his bankruptcy, his dealings with his creditors and other persons, the amount, kind, and whereabouts of his property, and, in addition, all matters which may affect the administration and settlement of his estate; but no testimony given

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by him shall be offered in evidence against him in any criminal proceeding.

It is difficult to determine from the contentions urged in favor of an affirmative answer whether it is deemed the solution of the...

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