Adams v. State of Maryland, No. 271

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACK
Citation74 S.Ct. 442,98 L.Ed. 608,347 U.S. 179
Decision Date08 March 1954
Docket NumberNo. 271
PartiesADAMS v. STATE OF MARYLAND

347 U.S. 179
74 S.Ct. 442
98 L.Ed. 608
ADAMS

v.

STATE OF MARYLAND.

No. 271.
Argued Jan. 7, 1954.
Decided March 8, 1954.

Messrs. J. Francis Ford, Baltimore, Md., George E. C. Hayes, Washington, d.C., for petitioner.

Mr. W. Giles Parker, Baltimore, Md., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

In response to a summons the petitioner Adams appeared to testify before a Senate Committee investigating crime. Answering questions he confessed to having run a gambling business in Maryland. That confession has been used in this case to convict Adams of conspiring

Page 180

to violate Maryland's antilottery laws. The trial court sentenced Adams to pay a fine of $2,000 and serve seven years in the state penitentiary. The Court of Appeals of Maryland affirmed, rejecting Adams' contention that use of the committee testimony against him was forbidden by a provision in a federal statute. Md., 97 A.2d 281. That provision, now 18 U.S.C. § 3486, 18 U.S.C.A. § 3486, set out in full below, provides that no testimony given by a witness in congressional inquiries 'shall be used as evidence in any criminal proceeding against him in any court * * *.'1 The Maryland Court of Appeals held that Adams had testified before the Committee 'voluntarily' and was therefore not protected by § 3486. We granted certiorari because a proper understanding of the scope of this Section is of importance to the national government, to the states and to witnesses summoned before congressional committees. 346 U.S. 864, 74 S.Ct. 104. In this Court Maryland contends that the Section does not bar use of Adams' testimony because: (1) He waived the statutory 'privilege' by testifying 'voluntarily,' meaning that Adams failed to object to each committee question on the ground of its tendency to incriminate him; (2) the Section should be construed so as to apply to United States courts only. If these two statutory contentions are rejected, we are urged to hold that Congress is without constitutional power to bar the use of congressional committee testimony in state courts.

(1) Circumstances may be conceivable under which statements made in the presence of a congressional com-

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mittee might not be protected by § 3486. For example, a person might voluntarily appear and obtain permission to make a statement in a committee's presence, wholly for his own advantage, and without ever being questioned by the committee at all. But Adams did not testify before the Senate Committee under any such circumstances. He was not a volunteer. He was summoned. Had he not appeared he could have been fined and sent to jail. 2 U.S.C. § 192, 2 U.S.C.A. § 192. Nor does the record show any spontaneous outpouring of testimony from him. The testimony Maryland used to convict him was brought out by repeated committee questions. It is true that Adams did not attempt to escape answering these questions by claiming a constitutional privilege to refuse to incriminate himself. But no language of the Act requires such a claim in order for a witness to feel secure that his testimony will not be used to convict him of crime. Indeed, a witness does not need any statute to protect him from the use of self-incriminating testimony he is compelled to give over his objection. The Fifth Amendment takes care of that without a statute. Consequently, the construction of § 3486 here urged would limit its protection to that already afforded by the Fifth Amendment, leaving the Section with no effect whatever. We reject the contention that Adams' failure to claim a constitutional privilege deprived him of the statutory protection of § 3486.

(2) Nor can we hold that the Act bars use of committee testimony in United States courts but not in state courts. The Act forbids use of such evidence 'in any criminal proceeding * * * in any court'. Language could be no plainer. Even if there could be legislative history sufficiently strong to make 'any court' mean United States courts only, there is no such history. The few scraps of legislative history pointed out tend to indicate that Congress was well aware that an ordinary person

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would read the phrase 'in any court' to include state courts. To construe this phrase as having any other meaning would make the Act a trap for the unwary.

It is suggested, however, that regardless of the plain meaning of § 3486 as originally passed an event since its passage should cause us to give it an entirely different meaning. The Section stems from an 1857 Act of Congress designed to grant committee witnesses immunity from prosecution in order to compel them to give...

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97 practice notes
  • Marchetti v. United States Grosso v. United States, Nos. 2
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 29, 1968
    ...with the privilege, or which assures the necessary confidentiality or immunity to overcome the privilege. See Adams v. State of Maryland, 347 U.S. 179, 74 S.Ct. 442, 98 L.Ed. 608; Reina v. United States, 364 U.S. 507, 81 S.Ct. 260, 5 L.Ed.2d 249. True, some of the values protected by the se......
  • Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, No. 138
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1964
    ...decided by this Court since Feldman fall into two categories. Those involving a federal immunity statute exemplified by Adams v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 179, 74 S.Ct. 442, 98 L.Ed. 608—in which the Court suggested that the Fifth Amendment bars use by the States of evidence obtained by the Federa......
  • Maldonado v. Superior Court of San Mateo Cnty., No. S183961.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 23, 2012
    ...v. Broderick (1968) 392 U.S. 273, 277–Commissioner of S. of N.Y. (2d Cir.1970) 426 F.2d 619, 626–627; see also Adams v. Maryland (1954) 347 U.S. 179, 181, 74 S.Ct. 442, 98 L.Ed. 608.) Here, as noted above, the parties agree that the Fifth Amendment protects petitioner against any direct or ......
  • Jeffries v. Olesen, No. 15779.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • May 13, 1954
    ...statutory authority are valid and have "the force and effect of law" U. S. ex rel. Accardi v. Shaughnessy, 1954, 347 U.S. 260, 265, 74 S.Ct. 442; Ex parte Reed, 1879, 100 U.S. 13, 22, 25 L.Ed. 538, the same force as though prescribed in terms by the statute. Atchison, T. & S. F. Ry. v. Scar......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
96 cases
  • Marchetti v. United States Grosso v. United States, Nos. 2
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 29, 1968
    ...with the privilege, or which assures the necessary confidentiality or immunity to overcome the privilege. See Adams v. State of Maryland, 347 U.S. 179, 74 S.Ct. 442, 98 L.Ed. 608; Reina v. United States, 364 U.S. 507, 81 S.Ct. 260, 5 L.Ed.2d 249. True, some of the values protected by the se......
  • Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, No. 138
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1964
    ...decided by this Court since Feldman fall into two categories. Those involving a federal immunity statute exemplified by Adams v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 179, 74 S.Ct. 442, 98 L.Ed. 608—in which the Court suggested that the Fifth Amendment bars use by the States of evidence obtained by the Federa......
  • Maldonado v. Superior Court of San Mateo Cnty., No. S183961.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 23, 2012
    ...v. Broderick (1968) 392 U.S. 273, 277–Commissioner of S. of N.Y. (2d Cir.1970) 426 F.2d 619, 626–627; see also Adams v. Maryland (1954) 347 U.S. 179, 181, 74 S.Ct. 442, 98 L.Ed. 608.) Here, as noted above, the parties agree that the Fifth Amendment protects petitioner against any direct or ......
  • Jeffries v. Olesen, No. 15779.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • May 13, 1954
    ...statutory authority are valid and have "the force and effect of law" U. S. ex rel. Accardi v. Shaughnessy, 1954, 347 U.S. 260, 265, 74 S.Ct. 442; Ex parte Reed, 1879, 100 U.S. 13, 22, 25 L.Ed. 538, the same force as though prescribed in terms by the statute. Atchison, T. & S. F. Ry. v. Scar......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Warren Court - After Three Terms
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 9-4, December 1956
    • December 1, 1956
    ...a narrow ground of due process. One cannot escape the impression that the results in these two cases, as well as 15 Adams v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 179 (1954); Hernandez v. Texas, 347 U.S. 475 (1954); Leyra v. Denno, 347 U.S. 556 (1954). 16 Salsburg v. Maryland, 346 U.S. 545 (1954), and Irvine ......

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