DEUTCH V. UNITED STATES, 367 U. S. 456 (1961)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Deutch v. United States, 367 U.S. 456 (1961)

Deutch v. United States

No. 233

Argued March 22-23, 1961

Decided June 12, 1961

367 U.S. 456


Summoned to testify before a Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities, which was investigating Communist Party activities in the Albany, N.Y., area, petitioner, who had not attended the hearings in Albany and was questioned in Washington, D.C., freely answered questions about his own Communist activities at Cornell University and Ithaca, N.Y., but he refused to name persons with whom he had been associated in such activities there. He was convicted of a violation of 2 U.S.C. § 192, which makes it a misdemeanor for any person summoned as a witness by a congressional committee to refuse to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry. At his trial, in an effort to prove the pertinency of the questions he refused to answer, the Government offered documentary evidence of statements made by the Chairman of the Subcommittee at the hearings in Albany, which tended to show that the subject of those hearings was Communist infiltration in the Albany area, particularly in the field of labor, and one witness testified that petitioner's hearing was a continuation of the Albany hearings, that the subject of those hearings was Communist infiltration in the Albany area, and that the topic under inquiry was not Communism either at Cornell or in educational institutions generally. It also introduced transcripts of the testimony of two witnesses at the Albany hearings who, in addition to testifying about Communist infiltration into labor unions in the Albany area, had been led into some testimony about Communist activities by petitioner and others at Cornell.

Held: on the record in this case, the Government failed to prove an essential element of the offense, that the questions which petitioner refused to answer were pertinent to the subject under inquiry, and his conviction must be set aside. Pp. 367 U. S. 457-472.

108 U.S.App.D.C. 143, 280 F.2d 691, reversed.

Page 367 U. S. 457

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