Rogers v. United States - 340 U.S. 367 (1951)


U.S. Supreme Court

Rogers v. United States, 340 U.S. 367 (1951)

Rogers v. United States

No. 20

Argued November 7, 1950

Decided February 26, 1951

340 U.S. 367

Syllabus

Under subpoena, petitioner appeared before a federal grand jury and testified without objection that she had been Treasurer of the Communist Party of Denver, had been in possession of its records, and had turned them over to another person, but she refused to identify the person to whom she had delivered the records, giving as her only reason her wish not to subject another person to what she was going through. She was committed to the custody of the marshal until the next day, and advised of her right to counsel. On the next day, her counsel informed the court that, on his advice, petitioner would answer the question to purge herself of contempt. Upon her reappearance before the grand jury, she again refused to answer the question. Brought back into court and charged with contempt, she then, for the first time, asserted her privilege against self-incrimination. Her claim of privilege was overruled, and she was convicted of contempt.

Held: the conviction is sustained. Pp. 340 U. S. 368-375.

(a) Since the privilege against self-incrimination is solely for the benefit of the witness, petitioner's original refusal to answer could not be justified by a desire to protect another from punishment, much less to protect another from interrogation by a grand jury. P. 340 U. S. 371.

(b) Books and records kept in a representative, rather than a personal, capacity cannot be the subject of the personal privilege against self-incrimination, even though production of them might tend to incriminate their keeper personally. Pp. 340 U. S. 371-372.

(c) Having freely answered self-incriminating questions relating to her connection with the Communist Party, petitioner could not refuse to answer further questions which would not subject her to a real danger of further incrimination. Pp. 340 U. S. 372-375.

(d) Questions relating to activities in the Communist Party are incriminating, both as to a violation of the Smith Act and as to a conspiracy to violate that Act, Blau v. United States, 340 U. S. 159. P. 340 U. S. 375.

179 F.2d 559, affirmed.

Page 340 U. S. 368

In a federal district court, petitioner was convicted of contempt for refusal to answer questions asked by a federal grand jury. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 179 F.2d 559. This Court granted certiorari. 339 U.S. 956. Affirmed, p. 340 U. S. 375.



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