United States v. Apfelbaum
Annotate this Case
445 U.S. 115 (1980)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Apfelbaum, 445 U.S. 115 (1980)
United States v. Apfelbaum
Argued December 3, 1979
Decided March 3, 1980
445 U.S. 115
After initially invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination while being questioned before a federal grand jury, respondent ultimately testified when the Government granted him immunity in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 6002, which provides that, when a witness is compelled to testify over his claim of a Fifth Amendment privilege, no testimony or other information compelled under the order to testify may be used against the witness in any criminal case, "except a prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with the order." Respondent was later indicted and convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1623(a) (1976 ed., Supp. II) for false swearing in his grand jury testimony with regard to certain statements. At trial, respondent objected to the use of any of his immunized testimony except the portions charged in the indictment as false, but the District Court admitted other portions of the testimony as being relevant to prove that he had knowingly made the charged false statements. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, because such immunized testimony did not constitute the "corps delicti" or "core" of the false-statements offense, it could not be introduced.
Held: Because proper invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination allows a witness to remain silent, but not to swear falsely, neither § 6002 nor the Fifth Amendment precludes the use of respondent's immunized grand jury testimony at a subsequent prosecution for making false statements, so long as that testimony conforms to otherwise applicable rules of evidence. Pp. 445 U. S. 121-132.
(a) Section 6002's language makes no distinction between truthful and untruthful statements made during the course of immunized testimony, but, rather, creates a blanket exemption from the bar against the use of such testimony where the witness is subsequently prosecuted for making false statements. And § 6002's legislative history shows that Congress intended the perjury and false-declarations exception to be interpreted as broadly as constitutionally permissible. Thus, it is evident that Congress intended to permit the use of both truthful and false statements made during the course of immunized testimony if such use was not prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 445 U. S. 121-123.
(b) It is analytically incorrect to equate the benefits of remaining silent as a result of invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege with the protections conferred by the privilege -- protections that may be invoked with respect to matters that pose substantial and real hazards of subjecting a witness to criminal liability at the time he asserts the privilege. For a grant of immunity to provide protection "coextensive" with that of the Fifth Amendment, it need not treat the witness as if he had remained silent. Here, the Fifth Amendment does not prevent the use of respondent's immunized testimony at his trial for false swearing because, at the time he was granted immunity, the privilege would not have protected him against false testimony that he later might decide to give. Pp. 445 U. S. 123-132.
584 F.2d 1264, reversed.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 445 U. S. 132. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 445 U. S. 133.