Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, No. 138

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtGOLDBERG
Citation84 S.Ct. 1594,378 U.S. 52,12 L.Ed.2d 678
Docket NumberNo. 138
Decision Date15 June 1964
PartiesWilliam MURPHY and John Moody, Sr., Petitioners, v. The WATERFRONT COMMISSION OF NEW YORK HARBOR

378 U.S. 52
84 S.Ct. 1594
12 L.Ed.2d 678
William MURPHY and John Moody, Sr., Petitioners,

v.

The WATERFRONT COMMISSION OF NEW YORK HARBOR.

No. 138.
Argued March 5, 1964.
Decided June 15, 1964.

Harold Krieger, New York City, for petitioners.

William P. Sirignano, New York City, for respondent.

Page 53

Mr. Justice GOLDBERG delivered the opinion of the Court.

We have held today that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination must be deemed fully applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment. Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 84 S.Ct. 1489. This case presents a related issue: whether one jurisdiction within our federal structure may compel a witness, whom it has immunized from prosecution under its laws, to give testimony which might then be used to convict him of a crime against another such jurisdiction.1

Petitioners were subpoenaed to testify at a hearing conducted by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor concerning a work stoppage at the Hoboken, New Jersey, piers. After refusing to respond to certain questions about the stoppage on the ground that the answers might tend to incriminated them, petitioners were granted immunity from prosecution under the laws of New Jersey and New York.2 Notwithstanding this grant of immunity, they still refused to respond to the questions on the

Page 54

ground that the answers might tend to incriminate them under federal law, to which the grant of immunity did not purport to extend. Petitioners were thereupon held in civil and criminal contempt of court. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the criminal contempt conviction on procedural grounds but, relying on this Court's decisions in Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 2 L.Ed.2d 1393; Feldman v. United States, 322 U.S. 487, 64 S.Ct. 1082, 88 L.Ed. 1408; and United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141, 52 S.Ct. 63, 76 L.Ed. 210, affirmed the civil contempt judgments on the merits. The court held that a State may constitutionally compel a witness to give testimony which might be used in a federal prosecution against him.3 39 N.J. 436, 452—458, 189 A.2d 36, 46—49.

Since a grant of immunity is valid only if it is coextensive with the scope of the privilege against self-incrimination, Counselman v. Hitchcock, 142 U.S. 547, 12 S.Ct. 195, 35 L.Ed. 1110, we must now decide the fundamental constitutional question of whether, absent an immunity provision, one jurisdiction in our federal structure may compel a witness to give testimony which might incriminate him under the laws of another jurisdiction. The answer to this question must depend, of course, on whether such an application of the privilege promotes or defeats its policies and purposes.

Page 55

I. THE POLICIES OF THE PRIVILEGE.

The privilege against self-incrimination 'registers an important advance in the development of our liberty—'one of the great l ndmarks in man's struggle to make himself civilized." Ullmann v. United States, 350 U.S. 422, 426, 76 S.Ct. 497, 500, 100 L.Ed. 511.4 It reflects many of our fundamental values and most noble aspirations: our unwillingness to subject those suspected of crime to the cruel trilemma of self-accusation, perjury or contempt; our preference for an accusatorial rather than an inquisitorial system of criminal justice; our fear that self-incriminating statements will be elicited by inhumane treatment and abuses; our sense of fair play which dictates 'a fair state-individual balance by requiring the government to leave the individual alone until good cause is shown for disturbing him and by requiring the government in its contest with the individual to shoulder the entire load,' 8 Wigmore, Evidence (McNaughton rev., 1961), 317; our respect for the inviolability of the human personality and of the right of each individual 'to a private enclave where he may lead a private life,' United States v. Grunewald, 2 Cir., 233 F.2d 556, 581—582 (Frank J., dissenting), rev'd 353 U.S. 391, 77 S.Ct. 963, 1 L.Ed.2d 931; our distruct of self-deprecatory statements; and our realization that the privilege, while sometimes 'a shelter to the guilty,' is often 'a protection to the innocent.' Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155, 162, 75 S.Ct. 668, 673, 99 L.Ed. 964.

Most, if not all, of these policies and purposes are defeated when a witness 'can be whipsawed into incriminating himself under both state and federal law even though' the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination is applicable to each. Cf. Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 385, 78 S.Ct. 1302, 1310 (dissenting opinion of MR. JUSTICE BLACK). This has become especially true in our age of

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'cooperative federalism,' where the Federal and State Governments are waging a united front against many types of criminal activity. 5

Page 57

Respondent contends, however, that we should adhere to the 'established rule' that the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination does not protect a witness in one jurisdiction against being compelled to give testimony which could be used to convict him in another jurisdiction. This 'rule' has three decisional facets: United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141, 52 S.Ct. 63, held that the Federal Government could compel a witness to give testimony which might incriminate him under state law; Knapp v. Schweitzer, 357 U.S. 371, 78 S.Ct. 1302, held that a State could compel a witness to give testimony which might incriminate him under federal law; and Feldman v. United States, 322 U.S. 487, 64 S.Ct. 1082, held that testimony thus compelled by a State could be introduced into evidence in the federal courts.

Our decision today in Malloy v. Hogan, supra, necessitates a reconsideration of this rule.6 Our review of the pertinent cases in this Court and of their English antecedents reveals that Murdock did not adequately consider the relevant authorities and has been significantly weakened by subsequent decisions of this Court, and, further, that the legal premises underlying Feldman and Knapp have since been rejected.

Page 58

II. THE EARLY ENGLISH AND AMERICAN CASES.

A. The English Cases Before the Adoption of the Constitution.

In 1749 the Court of Exchequer decided East India Co. v. Campbell, 1 Ves.Sen. 246, 27 Eng.Rep. 1010. The defendant in that case refused to 'discover' certain information in a proceeding in an English court on the ground that it might subject him to punishment in the courts of India. The court unanimously held that the privilege against self-incrimination protected a witness in an English court from being compelled to give testimony which could be used to convict him in the courts of another jurisdiction. The court stated the rule to be:

'that this court shall not oblige one to discover that, which, if he answers in the affirmative, will subject him to the punishment of a crime * * * and that he is punishable appears from the case of Omichund v. Barker, (1 Atk. 21.) as a jurisdiction is erected in Calcutta for criminal facts: where he may be sent to government and tried, thought not punishable here; like the case of one who was concerned in a rape in Ireland, and sent over there by the government to be tried, although the court of B.R. here refused to do it * * * for the government may send persons to answer for a crime wherever committed, that he may not involve his country; and to prevent reprisals.' 1 Ves.Sen., at 247, 27 Eng.Rep., at 1011.

In the following year, this rule was applied in a case involving separate systems of court and law located within the same geographic area. The defendant in Brownsword v. Edwards, 2 Ves.sen. 243, 28 Eng.Rep. 157, refused to 'discover, whether she was lawfully married' to a certain individual, on the ground that if she admitted to the marriage she would be confessing to an act which, although legal under the common law, would render her

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'liable to prosecution in ecclesiastical court.' The Lord Chancellor said:

'This appears a very plain case, in which defendant may protect herself from making a discovery of her marriage; and I am afraid, if the court should over-rule such a plea, it would be setting up the oath ex officio; which then the parliament in the time of Charles I. would in vain have taken away, if the party might come into this court for it. The general rule is, that no one is bound to answer so as to subject himself to punishment, whether that punishment arises by the ecclesiastical law of the land.' 2 Ves.sen., at 244 245, 28 Eng.Rep., at 158.

B. The Saline Bank Case.

It was against this background of English case law that this Court in 1828 decided United States v. Saline Bank of Virginia, 1 Pet. 100, 7 L.Ed. 69. The Government, seeking to recover certain bank deposits, brought suit in the District Court against the bank and a number of its stockholders. The defendants resisted discovery of 'any matters, whereby they may impeach or accuse themselves of any offence or crime, or be liable by the laws of the commonwealth of Virginia, to penalties and grievous fines * * *.' Id., 1 Pet., at 102. The unanimous opinion of the Court, delivered by Chief Justice Marshall, reads as follows:

'This is a bill in equity for a discovery and relief. The defendants set up a plea in bar, alleging that the discovery would subject them to penalties under the statute of Virginia.

'The Court below decided in favour of the validity of the plea, and dismissed the bill.

'It is apparent that in every step of the suit, the facts required to be discovered in support of this suit would expose the parties to danger. The rule

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clearly is, that a party is not bound to make any discovery which would expose him to penalties, and this case falls within it.

'The decree of the Court below is therefore affirmed.' Id., 1 Pet., at 104.

This case squarely holds that the privilege against self-incrimination protects a witness in a federal court from being compelled to give testimony which could be...

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1140 practice notes
  • Byron, Harless, Schaffer, Reid and Associates, Inc. v. State ex rel. Schellenberg, No. DD-30
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 1, 1978
    ...Wolf v. Colorado, 338 U.S. 25, 27, 69 S.Ct. 1359, 1361, 93 L.Ed. 1782, 1785 (1949). 20 Murphy v. Waterfront Comm'n of New York Harbor, 378 U.S. 52, 55, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 1596-97, 12 L.Ed.2d 678, 681 (1964), quoting Judge Frank's dissent in the United States v. Gruenewald, 233 F.2d 556, 581-82 ......
  • United States v. Atlantic Richfield Co., Civ. A. No. 75-3096
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • March 29, 1977
    ...709, 19 L.Ed.2d 906 (1968); Haynes v. United States, 390 U.S. 85, 88 S.Ct. 722, 19 L.Ed.2d 923 (1968); Murphy v. Waterfront Commission, 378 U.S. 52, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 12 L.Ed.2d 678 (1964). They rely further on the language in Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 634, 6 S.Ct. 524, 534, 29 L.Ed......
  • Aguilera v. Baca, No. 05-56617.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 27, 2007
    ...privilege." Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441, 458-59, 92 S.Ct. 1653, 32 L.Ed.2d 212 (1972) (quoting Murphy v. Waterfront Comm'n, 378 U.S. 52, 79, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 12 L.Ed.2d 678 (1964)). Usually, the government needs to affirmatively grant immunity, see id. at 459, 92 S.Ct. 1653, which......
  • Gamble v. United States, No. 17-646
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 17, 2019
    ...that its prior position was incompatible with the "policies and purposes" of the privilege. Murphy v. Waterfront Comm'n of N. Y. Harbor , 378 U.S. 52, 55, 77, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 12 L.Ed.2d 678 (1964). No longer, the Court held, could a witness " be whipsawed into incriminating himself under bot......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1132 cases
  • Byron, Harless, Schaffer, Reid and Associates, Inc. v. State ex rel. Schellenberg, No. DD-30
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • June 1, 1978
    ...Wolf v. Colorado, 338 U.S. 25, 27, 69 S.Ct. 1359, 1361, 93 L.Ed. 1782, 1785 (1949). 20 Murphy v. Waterfront Comm'n of New York Harbor, 378 U.S. 52, 55, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 1596-97, 12 L.Ed.2d 678, 681 (1964), quoting Judge Frank's dissent in the United States v. Gruenewald, 233 F.2d 556, 581-82 ......
  • United States v. Atlantic Richfield Co., Civ. A. No. 75-3096
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • March 29, 1977
    ...709, 19 L.Ed.2d 906 (1968); Haynes v. United States, 390 U.S. 85, 88 S.Ct. 722, 19 L.Ed.2d 923 (1968); Murphy v. Waterfront Commission, 378 U.S. 52, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 12 L.Ed.2d 678 (1964). They rely further on the language in Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 634, 6 S.Ct. 524, 534, 29 L.Ed......
  • Aguilera v. Baca, No. 05-56617.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 27, 2007
    ...privilege." Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441, 458-59, 92 S.Ct. 1653, 32 L.Ed.2d 212 (1972) (quoting Murphy v. Waterfront Comm'n, 378 U.S. 52, 79, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 12 L.Ed.2d 678 (1964)). Usually, the government needs to affirmatively grant immunity, see id. at 459, 92 S.Ct. 1653, which......
  • Gamble v. United States, No. 17-646
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 17, 2019
    ...that its prior position was incompatible with the "policies and purposes" of the privilege. Murphy v. Waterfront Comm'n of N. Y. Harbor , 378 U.S. 52, 55, 77, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 12 L.Ed.2d 678 (1964). No longer, the Court held, could a witness " be whipsawed into incriminating himself under bot......
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  • 16 Patent Portfolio Budgeting
    • United States
    • Landslide Nbr. 14-4, June 2022
    • June 1, 2022
    ...394 (1933) (“willfulness” is a set of states of mind), overruled in part on other grounds by Murphy v. Waterfront Comm’n of N.Y. Harbor, 378 U.S. 52 (1964); Howard Wisnia & Thomas Jackman, Reconsidering the Standard for Enhanced Damages in Patent Cases in View of Recent Guidance from the Su......
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    ...394 (1933) (“willfulness” is a set of states of mind), overruled in part on other grounds by Murphy v. Waterfront Comm’n of N.Y. Harbor, 378 U.S. 52 (1964); Howard Wisnia & Thomas Jackman, Reconsidering the Standard for Enhanced Damages in Patent Cases in View of Recent Guidance from the Su......
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    ...394 (1933) (“willfulness” is a set of states of mind), overruled in part on other grounds by Murphy v. Waterfront Comm’n of N.Y. Harbor, 378 U.S. 52 (1964); Howard Wisnia & Thomas Jackman, Reconsidering the Standard for Enhanced Damages in Patent Cases in View of Recent Guidance from the Su......
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