Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, 378 U.S. 52; 84 S. Ct. 1594; 12 L. Ed. 2d 678 (1964)

Facts—A number of persons had been subpoenaed to testify at a hearing conducted by the Waterfront Commission concerning a work stoppage at the Hoboken, New Jersey, piers. Even though they were granted immunity from prosecution under the laws of New Jersey and New York, they refused to testify on the ground that the answers might tend to incriminate them “under federal law, to which the grant of immunity did not purport to extend.”

Question—May a state compel a witness, whom it has immunized from prosecution under its laws, to give testimony that might then be used to convict him of a crime against the federal government?


ReasonsJ. Goldberg (9–0). There is no continuing legal vitality to or historical justification for the rule that one jurisdiction within our federal structure may compel a witness to give testimony that could be used to convict him of a crime in another jurisdiction. “We hold that the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination protects a state witness against incrimination under federal as well as state law and a federal witness against incrimination under state as well as federal law . . . we hold the constitutional rule to be that a state witness may not be compelled to give testimony which may be incriminating under federal law unless the compelled testimony and its fruits cannot be used in any manner by federal officials in connection with a criminal prosecution against him.”

NoteMurphy overruled United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141 (1931) and

Feldman v. United States, 332 U.S. 487 (1944).

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