254 U.S. 71 (1920), 55, Arndstein v. McCarthy

Docket Nº:No. 55
Citation:254 U.S. 71, 41 S.Ct. 26, 65 L.Ed. 138
Party Name:Arndstein v. McCarthy
Case Date:November 08, 1920
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 71

254 U.S. 71 (1920)

41 S.Ct. 26, 65 L.Ed. 138

Arndstein

v.

McCarthy

No. 55

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 8, 1920

Argued October 21, 22, 1920

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

Syllabus

Under direction of the bankruptcy court, but without objection, an involuntary bankrupt filed schedules of assets and liabilities which, standing alone, did not amount to an admission of guilt or furnish clear proof of crime, and, later in the proceeding, he declined to answer certain question concerning them on the ground that to do so might incriminate him. Held that, by filing the schedules, he did not waive his privilege under the Fifth Amendment. P. 72.

The privilege of the Amendment applies if it cannot be said that the questions propounded, considered in the light of the circumstances disclosed, may be answered with entire impunity. Id.

The provision of § 7 of the Bankruptcy Act that no testimony given by a bankrupt shall be offered in evidence against him in any criminal proceeding is not a substitute for the protection of the Fifth Amendment, since it does not prevent the use of his testimony to search out other evidence to be used in evidence against him or his property. P. 73.

Reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion. See also post, 379.

MCREYNOLDS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Holding that the petition failed to disclose adequate grounds therefor, the court below denied appellant's

Page 72

application for a writ of habeas corpus, through which he sought release from confinement for contempt. The cause is here by reason of the constitutional question involved.

The petition alleges:

That, having been adjudged an involuntary bankrupt, Arndstein was called before special commissioners for examination under § 21a, Bankruptcy Act. He refused to answer a long list of questions, claiming that to do so might tend to degrade and incriminate him. The district judge upheld this contention, and denied a motion to punish for contempt.

That, subsequent to such examination and under the direction of the court, the bankrupt filed schedules under oath which purported to show his assets and liabilities. When interrogated concerning these, he set up his constitutional privilege, and refused to answer many questions, which are set out. Thereupon he was committed to jail.

The writ was refused upon the...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP