PILLSBURY CO. V. CONBOY, 459 U. S. 248 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pillsbury Co. v. Conboy, 459 U.S. 248 (1983)

Pillsbury Co. v. Conboy

No. 81-825

Argued October 6, 1982

Decided January 11, 1983

459 U.S. 248


Title 18 U.S.C. § 6002 provides that

"no testimony or other information compelled under the order [of a federal court] (or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information) may be used against the witness in any criminal case."

When respondent appeared before a grand jury investigating price-fixing activities in the corrugated container industry, he was granted use immunity pursuant to § 6002 for his testimony. Subsequently, in civil antitrust actions brought in Federal District Court by petitioner purchasers of corrugated containers, respondent appeared, pursuant to a subpoena, for a deposition. At the deposition, questions were read from the transcript of his immunized grand jury testimony and rephrased to include the transcript answer, and then respondent was asked if he had "so testif[ied]" before the grand jury. He refused to answer each question, asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Granting petitioners' motion to compel respondent to answer, the District Court held him in contempt when he continued to claim his privilege. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that respondent was entitled to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege, since his deposition testimony was not protected under § 6002, but could be used against him in a subsequent criminal action.

Held: A deponent's civil deposition testimony, such as that in question in this case, repeating verbatim or closely tracking his prior immunized testimony, is not, without duly authorized assurance of immunity at the time, immunized testimony within the meaning of § 6002, and therefore may not be compelled over a valid assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege. Pp. 459 U. S. 252-264.

(a) To construe § 6002, as petitioners urge, so as to hold that the grant of immunity compelled respondent to give testimony at the civil deposition that repeats verbatim or closely tracks his prior testimony sweeps further than Congress intended and could hinder the Government's enforcement of its criminal laws by turning use immunity into a form of transactional immunity for subjects examined in the immunized proceeding. Use immunity is intended to immunize and exclude from a subsequent criminal trial only that information to which the Government expressly has surrendered future use. The purpose of § 6002 is to limit the

Page 459 U. S. 249

scope of immunity to a constitutionally required level, as well as to limit the use of immunity to those cases in which the Government determines that gaining the witness' testimony outweighs the loss of the opportunity for criminal prosecution of that witness. Pp. 459 U. S. 255-261.

(b) Petitioners' proposed construction of § 6002 also could put the deponent to some risk unless he receives an assurance of immunity or exclusion that the courts cannot properly give. Silence, on the other hand, preserves the deponent's rights and the Government's interests, as well as the judicial resources that otherwise would be required to make the many difficult judgments that petitioners' interpretation of § 6002 would require. Pp. 459 U. S. 261-263.

661 F.2d 1145, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and WHITE, MARSHALL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 459 U. S. 264. BRENNAN, J., post, p. 459 U. S. 271, and BLACKMUN, J., post, p. 459 U. S. 272, filed opinions concurring in the judgment. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 459 U. S. 282.

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