Giglio v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 70-29
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 405 US 150 (1972)
ARGUED: Oct 12, 1971
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1972
GRANTED: Mar 01, 1971

Erwin N. Griswold - for respondent
Harry R. Sachse - for respondent
James M. LaRossa - for petitioner

Facts of the case

Robert Taliento was accused of forgery of money orders during his work in the bank. While he was interrogated by the FBI agents, he disclosed that rendered to John Giglio signature cards from one bank to customer, which he used to obtain $2,300 by these orders. Then the forged documents were used in bank transactions.

Giglio v. United States case brief reflected the state Attorney DiPaola agreed with Taliento. The term was that he was not be condemned and obtained witness immunity if he provided evidence against John that he confirmed before the grand jury. As a result, the Giglio was considered as guilty.

After two years the litigation was handed to another prosecutor Golden. DiPaola didn`t say about that oral agreement, and Taliento affirmed that there were no that one. But the other attorney Hoey confirmed that he advised to both witness and his attorney before the first trial regarding the testimonies.

At the trial witness stated that he was not informed that he would not be charged. The court concluded that the fact of informing jury regarding his immunity was not significant and imposed a five years sentence on defendant. During the appellation proceeded his lawyer found the evidence of the agreement on non-prosecution with Taliento. The Supreme Court ordered certiorari to resolve this issue during the new trial.

The Supreme Court of USA canceled the condemnation and passed Giglio v United States for a new trial. The judges held that that the sue was based mainly on witness testimony, which was the ground for state prosecutions and the one evidence to a jury. The Court underlined that these points made Taliento's credibility as the principal issue. Thus any confirmation of an agreement regarding his future accusation was referred to his trustworthiness, and the jury was empowered to be informed about it. The Court upheld that due process guaranteed the right to the plaintiff in Giglio vs. the United States for a new trial and revised of sue.


Is the prosecution’s failure to disclose a promise of immunity made to a key witness grounds for a new trial?

Media for Giglio v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 12, 1971 in Giglio v. United States

La Rossa:

United States Attorney enclosing to the Jury said he referring to Taliento received no promises that he would not be indited.

So, I most respectfully submit that the impression that was given to that Jury on both the Government’s direct case and the cross examination by Petitioner’s Counsel was that the witness was taking his chances in coming before that Court and testifying that he still could be indited, that he still could be prosecuted, that he had no assurances from anyone, anyone particularly meaning any member of the Government.

Harry A. Blackmun:


La Rossa:

Yes Sir, I am.

I am stating that this absolute perjury with respect to this witness’s testimony and that is pouring out by the Government’s affidavits and opposition.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Well, you characterized it as perjury rather than misunderstanding on Taliento’s part?

La Rossa:

That is correct Sir.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Did you go so far?

La Rossa:

No, I do not believe I do Mr. Justice Blackmun, I do not think I have to.

I think whether he misunderstood or not, certainly the Assistant United States Attorney in that Court room had no right to misunderstand and as I will get to further in my argument, he should have had an absolute knowledge that the witness Taliento was testifying before that Jury with an absolute grant of immunity given to him by an Assistant United States Attorney.

Warren E. Burger:

It carries out a little beyond if in fact, the Assistant United States Attorney did not know and was making the argument in good faith.

If then, it is not true, does that weaken your position?

La Rossa:

No Sir, I do not believe so.

I think that if our foundation of Constitutional safe guards has to depend upon the fortuitousness of the fact that the Assistant United States Attorney trying a case, and the Assistant United States Attorney who makes the assurances to a particular witnesses one and the same, then we are on rather weak case.

I refer to Judge Palmer’s decision, a District Court decision in the Southern District in New York and application of Kapatos(ph) where he said referring to the Napeu decision, I do not think that an accused right as defined by a Napeu should depend on the fortuitous circumstance, but the District Attorney, you conducts the prosecution and the investigation be one and the same.

And since I am referring to that Mr. Chief Justice, may I also bring to the Court’s attention, the Hawkins decision from the Fifth Circuit which clearly states basically the same thing and the Circuit Court there at that time, in 1963, decided that at that time, these witnesses so testified the Government must be judged with the knowledge that the testimony was false.

There is another fact at here too.

If we carefully read the Assistant United States Attorney’s affidavit, wherein he tells us that he made a grant of immunity.

He tells us that it was agreed upon between Taliento, his Attorney and he, the Assistant US Attorney, it was understood and he also tells us that this was after conference, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Now, those of us who events on experience in the Federal Court know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the case agent who handles a particular case, and in this particular case that happened to be Agent Axton, who was a witness of this trial, would be the one who received this information.

So, not only does the Assistant US Attorney who gave the grant of immunity of the Grand Jury, know about this, but we must assume that Agent Axton and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had the same knowledge.

Thurgood Marshall:

Is there anything in the records to show the power of an Assistant US Attorney to grant immunity?

La Rossa:

Well, the affidavits in opposition Mr. Justice Marshall, state that an Assistant US Attorney has no authority to grant immunity and an affidavit from Mr. Hoey suggest that this can not be done and Judge Rio’s decision was based in part on the fact that our Assistant US Attorney has no right to grant immunity.

But I respectfully submit to this Court that if a hearing was held at that time, I as a former Assistant US Attorney in that District could have testified as could any Assistant in that office, that grants of immunity were made in the regular course, to get a witness to cooperate with the Government.

It was a known fact.

Thurgood Marshall:

And the US Attorney did he know about it?

La Rossa:

At times, he did Sir if it was important.

Thurgood Marshall:

Well, I am saying do you mean that US Attorney can grant immunity to amend charge with treason and nobody has to know about it?

And, it is infected?

La Rossa:

Well Mr. Justice Marshall, my I add one thing and I say yes, it is.