Raley v. Ohio

LOCATION: Union Station

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 360 US 423 (1959)
ARGUED: Apr 22, 1959 / Apr 23, 1959
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1959

Facts of the case


Media for Raley v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument, Part 2: Raley v. Ohio - April 23, 1959 (175) in Raley v. Ohio
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument, Part 1: Morgan v. Ohio - April 23, 1959 (463) in Raley v. Ohio
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument, Part 2: Morgan v. Ohio - April 23, 1959 (463) in Raley v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument, Part 1: Raley v. Ohio - April 22, 1959 (175) in Raley v. Ohio

Earl Warren:

Number 175, Raley, et al., Appellant, versus the State of Ohio.

Mr. Johnson.

Morse Johnson:

May it please the Court.

The basic question presented by this appeal is whether or not the compelled interrogation of the appellants before the Ohio Un-American Activities Commission violated their basic constitutional liberties as established by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The basic simple facts may be briefly stated.

These appellants were subpoenaed as to be witnesses in front of the house on -- front of the Ohio Un-American Activities Commission on October the 20th, 1952 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

They arrived at the hearings and the hearings were held.

The only guidance that they had is to what was under inquiry, what the purpose of the Commission's hearings at that time were, where the mandate itself coupled with a few general statements, which I will refer to later, made by the Chairman of the Commission.

The Chairman of the Commission advised these witnesses that they had their privilege against self-incrimination available to them should the questions as -- seek incriminating -- incriminating information.

William O. Douglas:

Speak that again.

Morse Johnson:

The appellants were assured or the witnesses before the Commission, Mr. Justice Douglas, were assured by the Chairman of the Commission admonished and advised that if questions sought incriminating information, these -- these witnesses could assert their privileges or their privilege against self-incrimination.

William O. Douglas:

Where is that in the record?

Morse Johnson:


I'm sorry to take you -- so long, Your Honor, I didn't -- on record 99, 134 and 157 as to each appellant, Your Honor.

William O. Douglas:

At 99.

Morse Johnson:

Record 99 as to appellant Raley, record 134 as to appellant Stern and at record 157 as to appellant Brown.

William O. Douglas:

Thank you.

Hugo L. Black:


Morse Johnson:

157, Your -- Mr. Justice.

In addition, Mr. Justice Douglas, throughout the colloquies or the questioning the -- it's implied in -- in much of the discussion between the witnesses and the Commission members that the privilege against self-incrimination was available.

For instance, questions were asked as to whether or not that did really seek incriminating information or how would it incriminate the witness.

There was no doubt and it can't be argued, as a matter of fact, the Supreme Court of Ohio in its decision in this case stated that the Chairman of the -- of the Commission had obviously in its opinion misstated the law and there is no question here, but that the facts of the case are -- are clear that these witnesses were advised clearly and unequivocally and repeatedly that they had their privileges against self-incrimination.

And it might be further notice that to each of the questions for which these witnesses were indicted and which formed the counts in their indictments, they had asserted the privilege against self-incrimination.

And in all but one instance, that privilege had been automatically accepted.

There was no countermanding order saying that the -- the Commission itself rejected the assertion of the privilege or refused to accept the assertion of the privilege ordered and answered.

In only one of the questions which formed the three indictments was there a specific and direct order by the Commission to answer the question.

The trial was held.

The jury was waived even at the -- at the early -- earliest opportunity on the motions to cross the indictments.

The constitutional issues that are now before this Court were raised by the appellants.

The trial judge found the appellants guilty on all accounts and found in -- in effect in an oral opinion that the questions that formed the counts of the indictments did not seek incriminating information and therefore, the privilege against self-incrimination was not available and therefore, they were guilty of contempt of the Ohio Commission.