HUTCHESON V. UNITED STATES, 369 U. S. 599 (1962)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hutcheson v. United States, 369 U.S. 599 (1962)

Hutcheson v. United States

No. 46

Argued November 6, 1961

Decided May 14, 1962

369 U.S. 599


Summoned to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, which was seeking information to aid in drafting and adopting legislation to curb misuse of union funds by union officials, petitioner, president of a labor union, refused to answer 18 questions pertaining to the use of union funds in an attempt to forestall an indictment in Lake County, Indiana, for the alleged bribery of a state official in connection with a sale of land to the State. He disclaimed any intention to rely on his privilege against self-incrimination; but he claimed that the questions were not pertinent to any activity which the Committee was authorized to investigate, that they were asked for purposes of "exposure," and that they might aid the prosecution of criminal charges then pending against him in a state court, and thus violate his rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. These objections were overruled, but petitioner persisted in his refusal to answer. For such refusal, 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 either House of Congress or a committee thereof to refuse to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry.

Held: the questions which petitioner refused to answer were clearly within the proper scope of the Committee's inquiry; the record does not support a conclusion that they were asked merely for the sake of "exposure" or to aid in the pending state criminal trial; the mere fact that answers to the questions might have been used against petitioner in the pending state criminal trial did not make this conviction violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the conviction is sustained. Pp. 369 U. S. 600-628.

109 U.S.App.D.C. 200, 285 F.2d 280, affirmed.

Page 369 U. S. 600

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