Reina v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Mapp's Residence

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 364 US 507 (1960)
ARGUED: Nov 07, 1960 / Nov 08, 1960
DECIDED: Dec 09, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for Reina v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 07, 1960 in Reina v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1960 in Reina v. United States

Earl Warren:

Giacomo Reina, versus United States.

Mr. Davis, you may continue your argument.

Oscar H. Davis:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This morning I should like to discuss, if I may first and briefly, the statutory question of whether the immunity provision of the Narcotic Control Act of 1956 does cover state prosecutions and secondly the constitutional question of whether Congress may so provide.

And third, I would like to touch also briefly on the propriety of the two-year sentence which was given by the District Court.

And then I shall return to the problem posed by the Chief Justice at the end of the argument yesterday as to whether there is a different rule with respect to such immunity provision as this for a man who has been convicted of a -- of a crime and is then sought to be questioned about transactions involved in that crime.

Unless some justice should -- should desire me to, I do not propose to argue the alternative position of the Government which is, of course, that if either the immunity provision does not cover state prosecutions because Congress did not intended to do so or it does not cover it because Congress could not do so, then under the rule, the Murdock case in 284 United States, the immunity is sufficient though it covers only federal prosecution.

We of course do not waive or abandon that argument.

We think it is unnecessary to the Court to reach it and therefore, I -- I shall not seek to discuss it unless some Justice should wish me to do so.

Going very briefly to the question, the statutory question of whether this provision does cover state prosecutions.

The first thing to know is that the substantive provisions of the statute are the provisions which grant the immunity are in the same words as the compulsory testimony Act of 1893 which the Court held in Brown against Walker in 1896 did cover state prosecutions.

And that those substantive provisions were carried forward into the 1954 statute relating to so-called subversive activities and into the 1956 statute relating to narcotic legislation as in this case.

But perhaps more significant and we think absolutely conclusive is the fact that this narcotics provi -- this immunity provision of the Narcotic Control Act of 1956 was formulated and enacted after this Court had decided the Ullmann case.

The Court decided the Ullmann case in March, 1956.

In May, 1956, the narcotic subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representative issued its voluminous report suggesting various provisions for the legislation which was to become the Narcotic Control Act of 1956.

And it included in that proposal an immunity provision and a bill was thereupon drafted and presented to Congress which concluded the same immunity provision in the terms with the necessary changes to cover narcotic legislation, in the terms of the 1954 provision which the Court had already held in the Ullmann case some month before did cover state prosecution.

Felix Frankfurter:

Mr. Davis, am I right in my recollection that certainly affecting that no Attorney General has ever recommended and all embracing immunity statute, that is an immunity statute available for every kind of prosecution as in the jurisdiction.

Oscar H. Davis:

I think you are right, Mr. Justice -- Justice --

Felix Frankfurter:

And it is always been ad hoc with reference to --

Oscar H. Davis:

-- to particular statute.

Felix Frankfurter:

-- specific areas --

Oscar H. Davis:


Felix Frankfurter:

-- of penal -- penal liability.

Oscar H. Davis:

Yes and I'll take this opportunity to stress a particular point about this statute which unlike the statute in Brown against Walker and in many of the other cases as in the (Inaudible) case and others gave immunity with respect to a concerning transactions matters and events which were testified to in any grand jury proceeding whether the Government intended or personally intended to grant immunity or not, this is a new kind of statute which came into the books with the 1954 statute which is that the immunity is only granted by the statute if the United States Attorney with the concurrence of the Attorney General acting in the -- in the public interest should state that immunity was necessary.

Now this statute has been on the books now a little over for four years.

It was passed in July, 1956.

In that four-year time, immunity has been accorded under the statute to only 13 persons, including this petitioner.

The Attorney General did authorize that immunity be accorded to five other persons but it was not necessary for one reason or another to seek an order from the Court.

So that actually only 13 persons have been accorded immunity under the statute in the four-and-a-half year period which has elapsed since its enactment.

I think that is all that I need to say on the statutory question of whether this immunity provision does cover state prosecutions.