McCarthy v. Arndstein,
266 U.S. 34 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

McCarthy v. Arndstein, 266 U.S. 34 (1924)

McCarthy v. Arndstein

No. 404, October Term, 1922

Petition for rehearing granted October 15, 1923

Reargued November 27, 1923

Decided October 20, 1924

266 U.S. 34


1. The right to examine the bankrupt in a bankruptcy proceeding, for the purpose of obtaining possession of property belonging to his estate, rests wholly upon § 21a of the Bankruptcy Act. P. 266 U. S. 39.

2. That section, prescribing no rules for the examination, impliedly adopts the general rules governing admissibility of evidence and competency and compellability of witnesses; it indicates no intention to take from any witness the privilege against self-incrimination, and makes clear the purpose not to differentiate between the bankrupt and other witnesses, nor between examinations relating to property from those relating to his acts or conduct. Id.

3. The constitutional privilege against self-incrimination applies to civil proceedings, and, in this country, whatever the rule in England,

Page 266 U. S. 35

it may, in the absence of any statute affording him complete immunity, be asserted by a bankrupt when being examined concerning his estate under § 21a of the Bankruptcy Act. Pp. 266 U. S. 40, 266 U. S. 42.

4. Decisions requiring bankrupts to surrender books and papers, though containing incriminating evidence, rest on the substantive obligation of bankrupts to surrender them as property; the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination relate to the adjective law. P. 266 U. S. 41.

Judgment reaffirmed.

Appeal from a judgment of the district court. in habeas corpus, discharging Arndstein from custody under a commitment for contempt based on his refusal to answer questions propounded on his examination as a bankrupt. The judgment was affirmed in McCarthy v. Arndstein, 262 U. S. 355. The present decision is upon a rehearing.

Page 266 U. S. 38

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