Kastigar v. United States Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Petitioners refuse to testify at a grand jury hearing on Fifth Amendment grounds despite their having been granted immunity.

Facts of the case

Kastigar cited his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination in refusing to testify before a grand jury, even though prosecutors had granted him immunity from the use of his testimony in subsequent criminal proceedings. He was found in contempt of court for failing to testify.


Can the government compel immunized testimony even if the subpoenaed persons have invoked the privilege versus self-incrimination?


Yes. Affirm the lower court’s decision allowing the compulsion of testimony.
The total proscription on use found in this federal statute, that is, from both use and derivative use, provides enough of a safeguard against Fifth Amendment rights being infringed on by barring the testimony from even being used as an investigatory lead.
The petitioners’ concern that the bar against derivative use could not be enforced effectively is overcome by subsequent prosecuting authorities having the burden of showing that their evidence comes from an independent source.


The Supreme Court of the United States held that the respondent could compel testimony by the petitioners despite the fact that they had invoked their privilege against compulsory self-incrimination, by conferring on them immunity from use of compelled testimony. Immunity from use and derivative use was coextensive with the scope of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, and therefore, despite the lack of a grant of transactional immunity, was sufficient to compel testimony over a claim of the privilege. Transactional immunity would have afforded broader protection than the Fifth Amendment privilege, and was not constitutionally required. The immunity provided by the respondent left the petitioners and the prosecutorial authorities in substantially the same position as if they had claimed the privilege against compulsory self-incrimination.

  • Case Brief: 1972
  • Petitioner: Kastigar
  • Respondent: United States
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 406 US 441 (1972)
Argued: Jan 11, 1972
Decided: May 22, 1972