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Hoffman v. United States

United States Supreme Court
341 U.S. 479, 71 S.Ct. 814, 95 L.Ed. 1118 (1951)

Hoffman v. United States


Hoffman was subpoenaed and appeared before a grand jury to testify regarding his knowledge of a fraud upon the federal government. The grand jury was impaneled to carry out an extensive investigation of rackets in the area. When called to testify, Hoffman refused to answer most of the questions the prosecution asked him. Hoffman would not tell the grand jury what line of work he was in. While he admitted to knowing one Weisberg for at least twenty years, Hoffman would not say when he last saw him, when he last spoke with him on the phone, or whether he knew the man’s current whereabouts. Weisberg had been subpoenaed but had not appeared for the grand jury proceeding. Hoffman refused to answer these questions because he feared his answers would incriminate him of a federal offense. The district court found no real and substantial danger that Hoffman’s answers would incriminate him and ordered him to return to the grand jury and answer the questions. When Hoffman said that he still would not answer the questions, he was convicted of criminal contempt. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Clark, J.)

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