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Counselman v. Hitchcock

United States Supreme Court
142 U.S. 547 (1892)


The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois convened a grand jury to investigate a criminal violation of the Interstate Commerce Act. The grand jury called Charles Counselman (plaintiff) as a witness. Counselman refused to answer the grand jury’s questions, stating that he was invoking his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. The marshal, Frank Hitchcock (defendant), jailed Counselman for his refusal to answer the questions. Counselman filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The government argued that the grand jury proceeding was not a criminal case and the right against self-incrimination thus did not apply. The court of appeals denied Counselman’s petition. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Blatchford, J.)

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