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Pillsbury Co. v. Conboy

459 U.S. 248 (1983)

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Pillsbury Co. v. Conboy

United States Supreme Court

459 U.S. 248 (1983)

Facts

John Conboy (defendant) was an executive for a company that was the subject of a price-fixing investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). DOJ attorneys promised Conboy use immunity in exchange for providing information in an interview and testifying before a grand jury. The company was criminally indicted. A number of civil-antitrust actions were filed after the indictment. Conboy was subpoenaed to appear for a deposition by Pillsbury Company (plaintiff) relating to one of the civil-antitrust actions. Conboy was deposed in a manner in which each question was phrased to include parts of his immunized-interview responses and grand-jury testimony. Refusing to answer, Conboy asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The district court entered an order compelling Conboy to answer the questions. The court held him in contempt when he continued to claim his privilege. The court of appeals affirmed the contempt order, holding that Conboy’s answers were protected by the prior grant of immunity. The court of appeals reheard the matter en banc and reversed the district court’s orders because the new answers created a new source of evidence that could be used in future criminal prosecutions. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

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