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NAMET V. UNITED STATES, 373 U. S. 179 (1963)

U.S. Supreme Court

Namet v. United States, 373 U.S. 179 (1963)

Namet v. United States

No. 134

Argued March 18, 1963

Decided May 13, 1963

373 U.S. 179


During a trial in a Federal District Court in which petitioner was convicted by a jury of violating the federal wagering tax law, the prosecutor asked two witnesses questions concerning their relationship with petitioner. Refusal of these witnesses to answer some of the questions, based on their privilege against self-incrimination, was sustained. Counsel for the witnesses had previously stated that the witnesses would claim their privilege against self-incrimination if asked about wagering violations. The judge instructed the jury that no inference should be drawn against petitioner from these refusals to testify, "unless it would be a logical inference that would appeal to you as having a direct bearing upon the defendant's guilt," and petitioner's counsel made no objection to this instruction.


1. In the light of the entire record in this case, no reversible error was committed when the prosecutor asked the witnesses questions as to which their plea of privilege against self-incrimination was sustained. Pp. 373 U. S. 185-190.

2. Even if the instruction on this subject was erroneous, it was not a plain error or defect "affecting substantial rights," within the meaning of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b), and it did not constitute reversible error. Pp. 373 U. S. 190-191.

301 F.2d 314, affirmed.

Page 373 U. S. 180

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