Wyman v. De Gregory

Citation100 N.H. 163,121 A.2d 805
PartiesLouis C. WYMAN, Attorney General, v. Hugo DE GREGORY.
Decision Date19 April 1956
CourtNew Hampshire Supreme Court

Louis C. Wyman, Atty. Gen., pro se.

James C. Cleveland, New London, specially for DeGregory.

LAMPRON, Justice.

Article 15, Part 1, of the Constitution of New Hampshire provides that 'no subject shall * * * be compelled to accuse or furnish evidence against himself.' This provision, commonly called the privilege against self-incrimination, is similar in nature to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which provides that 'no person * * * shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.' Like the latter it applies to an investigation by a legislative committee such as is the case here. Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155, 75 S.Ct. 668; United States v. DiCarlo, D.C., 102 F.Supp. 597; Cabot v. Corcoran, 322 Mass. 44, 123 N.E.2d 221; McCormick, Evidence, 259.

This privilege prevents a witness from being compelled to speak about an offence for which he could be criminally punished. 8 Wig.Ev. (3d ed) s. 2281. It follows therefore that if at the time of the claim of privilege, the liability of the witness to be convicted of the offence inquired about has been terminated, because of an acquittal, prior conviction, pardon or otherwise, the privilege does not exist for such conduct. McCormick, Evidence, 284. The purpose of legislation such as Laws 1955, c. 312, commonly called immunity statutes, is to remove the criminality of the offense inquired about; and because the privilege protects only against legal consequences of conduct, these consequences lacking, the privilege does not exist for such conduct. Ullmann v. United States, 76 S.Ct. 497; 8 Wig.Ev. supra.

Although Chapter 312, does not expressly provide for notice to a witness before immunity is granted to him it is DeGregory's position that the Legislature must have intended that notice be given.

The Attorney General in a report transmitted to the Legislature January 5, 1955 (Attorney General's Report on Subversive Activities N.H. 1955) recommended that it enact a law including 'authority in the Attorney General to grant immunity to a witness when he finds such a grant of immunity to be in the public interest.' The report also contained a draft of such recommended legislation. A bill incorporating said proposal was introduced in the legislature and failed to be adopted. Later in the same session Chapter 312 was enacted into law.

The bill recommended by the Attorney General and defeated by the Legislature and Chapter 312 of Laws 1955 contained identical language as to the grant of immunity except in the following respect. The former provided that no witness shall be excused from giving his testimony upon the ground that such evidence could tend to incriminate him 'provided that upon claim of privilege against self-incrimination, the attorney general has adjudged the testimony of such witness * * * to be necessary in the public interest confirmed by him in a written communication to the witness.' Chapter 312 requires the testimony 'provided that upon claim of privilege against self-incrimination, on relation of the attorney general, any justice of the superior court has adjudged the testimony of such witness * * * to be necessary in the public interest confirmed by such justice in a written communication to the witness.' The only changes made in their language were those necessary to substitute a Justice of the Superior Court for the Attorney General as the official who was to grant immunity.

In our opinion it cannot be convincingly contended that a...

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10 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Rodgers
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • 28 Abril 1977
    ...(1968); United States v. Gernie, 252 F.2d 664 (2d Cir. 1958); United States v. Romero, 249 F.2d 371 (2d Cir. 1957); Wyman v. DeGregory, 100 N.H. 163, 121 A.2d 805 (1956); Cherb v. State, 472 S.W.2d 273 (Tex.Crim.App.1971). The rationale is that '(a) conviction [472 Pa. 455] for the crime di......
  • Com. v. Rodgers
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • 28 Abril 1977
    ...(1968); United States v. Gernie, 252 F.2d 664 (2d Cir. 1958); United States v. Romero, 249 F.2d 371 (2d Cir. 1957); Wyman v. DeGregory, 100 N.H. 163, 121 A.2d 805 (1956); Cherb v. State, 472 S.W.2d 273 (Tex.Crim.App.1971). The rationale is that '(a) conviction for the crime discharges all l......
  • Wyman v. De Gregory
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • 31 Diciembre 1957
    ...because of an acquittal, prior conviction, pardon or otherwise, the privilege does not exist for such conduct.' Wyman v. De Gregory, 100 N.H. 163, 165, 121 A.2d 805, 807; In re Pillo, 11 N.J. 8, 93 A.2d 176; Brown v. Walker, supra, 161 U.S. 598, 599, 16 S.Ct. 647. In other words these const......
  • DeMauro v. DeMauro
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • 16 Junio 1998
    ...may be unlikely, the test is not whether prosecution will occur, but whether prosecution could occur. See Wyman v. DeGregory, 100 N.H. 163, 165, 121 A.2d 805, 807 (1956).At the Latshaw hearing in this case, plaintiff's counsel posed over one hundred questions to the defendant. With respect ......
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