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IN RE GROBAN, 352 U. S. 330 (1957)

U.S. Supreme Court

In re Groban, 352 U.S. 330 (1957)

In re Groban

No. 14

Argued November 6, 1956

Decided February 25, 1957

352 U.S. 330


After a fire occurred on premises of a corporation owned and operated by appellants in Ohio, the State Fire Marshal subpoenaed appellants to appear as witnesses in an investigation by him of the cause of the fire. Relying on Page's Ohio Rev.Code, 1954, § 3737.13, which provides that such an investigation "may be private" and that the Marshal may "exclude from the place" where the investigation is held "all persons other than those required to be present," he refused to permit appellants' counsel to be present at the proceeding. Appellants declined to be sworn and to testify in the absence of their counsel. This was treated as a violation of § 3737.12, which forbids any witness to refuse to be sworn or to refuse to testify, and, pursuant to § 3737.99(A), the Marshal committed appellants to jail until such time as they should be willing to testify. Denial of their application for a writ of habeas corpus was affirmed by the State Supreme Court.


1. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1257(2), this Court has jurisdiction of this appeal. Pp. 352 U. S. 331-332.

2. Appellants had no constitutional right to be assisted by counsel in giving testimony at the investigatory proceeding conducted by the Fire Marshal, and, insofar as it authorizes the exclusion of counsel while a witness testifies, § 3737.13 is not repugnant to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 352 U. S. 332-335.

164 Ohio St. 26, 128 N.E.2d 106, affirmed.

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