United States v. Apfelbaum, 78-972

Decision Date03 March 1980
Docket NumberNo. 78-972,78-972
Citation445 U.S. 115,100 S.Ct. 948,63 L.Ed.2d 250
PartiesUNITED STATES, Petitioner, v. Stanley APFELBAUM
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
Syllabus

After initially invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination while being questioned before a federal grand jury, respondent ultimately testified when the Government granted him immunity in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 6002, which provides that when a witness is compelled to testify over his claim of a Fifth Amendment privilege, no testimony or other information compelled under the order to testify may be used against the witness in any criminal case, "except a prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with the order." Respondent was later indicted and convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1623(a) (1976 ed., Supp. II) for false swearing in his grand jury testimony with regard to certain statements. At trial, respondent objected to the use of any of his immunized testimony except the portions charged in the indictment as false, but the District Court admitted other portions of the testimony as being relevant to prove that he had knowingly made the charged false statements. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that because such immunized testimony did not constitute the "corpus delicti " or "core" of the false-statements offense, it could not be introduced.

Held: Because proper invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination allows a witness to remain silent, but not to swear falsely, neither § 6002 nor the Fifth Amendment precludes the use of respondent's immunized grand jury testimony at a subsequent prosecution for making false statements, so long as that testimony conforms to otherwise applicable rules of evidence. Pp. 121-132.

(a) Section 6002's language makes no distinction between truthful and untruthful statements made during the course of immunized testimony, but, rather, creates a blanket exemption from the bar against the use of such testimony where the witness is subsequently prosecuted for making false statements. And § 6002's legislative history shows that Congress intended the perjury and false-declarations exception to be interpreted as broadly as constitutionally permissible. Thus, it is evidence that Congress intended to permit the use of both truthful and false statements made during the course of immunized testimony if such use was not prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 121-123.

(b) It is analytically incorrect to equate the benefits of remaining silent as a result of invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege with the protections conferred by the privilege protections that may be invoked with respect to matters that pose substantial and real hazards of subjecting a witness to criminal liability at the time he asserts the privilege. For a grant of immunity to provide protection "coextensive" with that of the Fifth Amendment, it need not treat the witness as if he had remained silent. Here, the Fifth Amendment does not prevent the use of respondent's immunized testimony at his trial for false swearing because, at the time he was granted immunity, the privilege would not have protected him against false testimony, the privilege would not have protected him against false testimony that he later might decide to give. Pp. 123-132.

584 F.2d 1264, reversed.

William C. Bryson, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Joel Harvey Slomsky, Philadelphia, Pa., for respondent.

Mr. Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent Apfelbaum invoked his privilege against compulsory self-incrimination while being questioned before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Government then granted him immunity in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 6002, and he answered the questions propounded to him. He was then charged with and convicted of making false statements in the course of those answers.1 The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction, however, because the District Court had admitted into evidence relevant portions of respondent's grand jury testimony that had not been alleged in the indictment to constitute the "corpus delicti " or "core" of the false-statements offense. Because proper invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination allows a witness to remain silent, but not to swear falsely, we hold that neither the statute nor the Fifth Amendment requires that the admissibility of immunized testimony be governed by any different rules than other testimony at a trial for making false statements in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1623(a) (1976 ed., Supp. II). We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

I

The grand jury had been investigating alleged criminal activities in connection with an automobile dealership located in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. The investigation focused on a robbery of $175,000 in cash that occurred at the dealership on April 16, 1975, and on allegations that two officers of the dealership staged the robbery in order to repay loan-shark debts.2 The grand jury also heard testimony that the officers were making extortionate extensions of credit through the Chestnut Hill Lincoln-Mercury dealership.

In 1976, respondent Apfelbaum, then an administrative assistant to the District Attorney in Philadelphia, was called to testify because it was thought likely that he was an aider or abettor or an accessory after the fact to the allegedly staged robbery. When the grand jury first sought to question him about his relationship with the two dealership officials sus- pected of the staged robbery, he claimed his Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination and refused to testify. The District Judge entered an order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 6002 granting him immunity and compelling him to testify.3 Respondent ultimately complied with this order to testify.4

During the course of his grand jury testimony, respondent made two series of statements that served as the basis for his subsequent indictment and conviction for false swearing. The first series was made in response to questions concerning whether respondent had attempted to locate Harry Brown, one of the two dealership officials, while on a "fishing trip" in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., during the month of December 1975. Respondent testified that he was "positive" he had not attempted to locate Brown, who was also apparently in the Ft. Lauderdale area at the time. In a second series of statements, respondent denied that he had told FBI agents that he had lent $10,000 to Brown. The grand jury later indicted respond- ent pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1623(a) (1976 ed., Supp. II) for making these statements, charging that the two series of statements were false and that respondent knew they were false.

At trial, the Government introduced into evidence portions of respondent's grand jury testimony in order to put the charged statements in context and to show that respondent knew they were false. The excerpts concerned respondent's relationship with Brown, his 1976 trip to Florida to visit Brown, the discussions he had with Brown on that occasion, and his denial that he had financial dealings with the automobile dealership in Philadelphia or had cosigned a loan for Brown. Respondent objected to the use of all the immunized testimony except the portions charged in the indictment as false. The District Court overruled the objection and admitted the excerpts into evidence on the ground that they were relevant to prove that respondent had knowingly made the charged false statements. The jury found respondent guilty on both counts of the indictment.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed, holding that because the immunized testimony did not constitute "the corpus delicti or core of a defendant's false swearing indictment" it could not be introduced. 584 F.2d 1264, 1265 (1978). We granted certiorari because of the importance of the issue and because of a difference in approach to it among the Courts of Appeals.5 440 U.S. 957, 99 S.Ct. 1496, 59 L.Ed.2d 770 (1979).

The differing views that this question has elicited from the Courts of Appeals are not surprising, because there are considered statements in one line of cases from this Court, and both statements and actual holdings in another line of cases, that as a matter of strict and literal reading cannot be wholly reconciled.6 Though most of the decisions of the Courts of Appeals turn on the interaction between perjury and immunity statutes enacted by Congress and the privilege against compulsory self-incrimination conferred by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, it is of course our first duty to decide whether the statute relied upon in this case to sustain the conviction of respondent may properly be interpreted to do so. We turn now to decision of that question.

II

Did Congress intend the federal immunity statute, 18 U.S.C. § 6002, to limit the use of a witness' immunized grand jury testimony in a subsequent prosecution of the witness for false statements made at the grand jury proceeding? Respondent contends that while § 6002 permits the use of a witness' false statements in a prosecution for perjury or for making false declarations, it establishes an absolute prohibition against the use of truthful immunized testimony in such prosecutions. But this contention is wholly at odds with the explicit language of the statute, and finds no support even in its legislative history.

It is a well-established principle of statutory construction that absent clear evidence of a contrary legislative intention, a statute should be interpreted according to its plain language. Here 18 U.S.C. § 6002 provides that when a witness is compelled to testify over his claim of a Fifth Amendment privilege, "no testimony or other information compelled under the order (or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information) may...

To continue reading

Request your trial
307 cases
  • Goldstein v. Miller
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • April 25, 1980
    ... ... Civ. Nos. K-79-2163, K-79-2164 ... United States District Court, D. Maryland ... February 29, 1980 ... On ... ...
  • U.S. v. Kassouf
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • May 21, 1998
    ...interpret it according to that language unless there is evidence of Congress's contrary intent. United States v. Apfelbaum, 445 U.S. 115, 121, 100 S.Ct. 948, 63 L.Ed.2d 250 (1980); Nixon v. Kent County, 76 F.3d 1381, 1386 (6th Section 7212(a) provides in pertinent part that: Whoever corrupt......
  • Walters v. Snyder (In re Flint Water Cases)
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit
    • November 8, 2022
    ...facing the claimant must be "substantial and ‘real,’ and not merely trifling or imaginary." United States v. Apfelbaum , 445 U.S. 115, 128, 100 S.Ct. 948, 63 L.Ed.2d 250 (1980) (citation omitted). As for secondary or subsequent proceedings, most circuits have held that a waiver in one proce......
  • Paramount Pictures Corp. v. Miskinis, Docket No. 67943
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • March 19, 1984
    ...rise to "substantial and 'real', and not merely trifling or imaginary, hazards of incrimination". United States v. Apfelbaum, 445 U.S. 115, 128, 100 S.Ct. 948, 955, 63 L.Ed.2d 250 (1980). A witness therefore may not invoke the Fifth Amendment where subsequent prosecution for acts about whic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
37 books & journal articles
  • Self-incrimination
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 1-2 Volume 1
    • May 5, 2022
    ...logical corollary to a person’s Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself is the concept of immunity. United States v. Apfelbaum, 445 U.S. 115, 100 S.Ct. 948, 63 L.Ed.2d 250 (1980); Butterfield v. State, 992 S.W.2d 448 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999). Among the necessary and most important of......
  • Self-Incrimination
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 1 - 2019 Contents
    • August 16, 2019
    ...logical corollary to a person’s Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself is the concept of immunity. United States v. Apfelbaum, 445 U.S. 115, 100 S.Ct. 948, 63 L.Ed.2d 250 (1980); Butterfield v. State, 992 S.W.2d 448 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999). Among the necessary and most important of......
  • Self-Incrimination
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 1 - 2017 Contents
    • August 17, 2017
    ...logical corollary to a person’s Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself is the concept of immunity. United States v. Apfelbaum, 445 U.S. 115, 100 S.Ct. 948, 63 L.Ed.2d 250 (1980); Butterfield v. State, 992 S.W.2d 448 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999). Among the necessary and most important of......
  • Self-Incrimination
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 1 - 2014 Contents
    • August 17, 2014
    ...logical corollary to a person’s Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself is the concept of immunity. United States v. Apfelbaum, 445 U.S. 115, 100 S.Ct. 948, 63 L.Ed.2d 250 (1980); Butterfield v. State, 992 S.W.2d 448 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999). Among the necessary and most important of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT