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MURPHY V. WATERFRONT COMM'N, 378 U. S. 52 (1964)

U.S. Supreme Court

Murphy v. Waterfront Comm'n, 378 U.S. 52 (1964)

Murphy v. Waterfront Commission

No. 138

Argued March 5, 1964

Decided June 15, 1964

378 U.S. 52


Although petitioners were granted immunity from prosecution under state laws, they refused to answer questions at a hearing conducted by the respondent on the ground that the answers might tend to incriminate them under federal law, to which the grant of immunity did not extend. They were held in civil and criminal contempt of court. The State Supreme Court reversed the criminal conviction on procedural grounds, but affirmed the civil contempt judgment, holding that a State may constitutionally compel a witness to give testimony which might be used against him in a federal prosecution.

Held: One jurisdiction in our federal system may not, absent an immunity provision, compel a witness to give testimony which might incriminate him under the laws of another jurisdiction.

(a) A state witness granted immunity from prosecution under state law may not be compelled to give testimony which may incriminate him under federal law unless such testimony and its fruits cannot be used in connection with a federal prosecution against him, and such use of compelled testimony or its fruits, as distinguished from independent evidence, by the Federal Government must be proscribed. Feldman v. United States, 322 U. S. 487, overruled. Pp. 378 U. S. 79-80.

(b) The State may thus obtain information requisite for effective law enforcement and the witness and the Federal Government are left in the same position as if the witness claimed his privilege in the absence of a state grant of immunity. P. 378 U. S. 79.

(c) With the removal of the fear of federal prosecution, the petitioners may be compelled to answer. Pp. 378 U. S. 79-80.

39 N.J. 436, 189 A.2d 36, judgment vacated in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.

Page 378 U. S. 53

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