Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Under Miranda, a person in police custody has, of course, an absolute right to decline to answer any question, incriminating or innocuous, whereas a grand jury witness, on the contrary, has an absolute duty to answer all questions, subject only to a valid U.S. Const. amend. V claim. And even when the grand jury witness asserts the privilege, questioning need not cease, except as to the particular subject to which the privilege has been addressed. Other lines of inquiry may properly be pursued.
As a result of certain information concerning respondent Mandujano’s participation in an attempted sale of heroin, respondent was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating narcotics traffic in the area. The prosecutor warned him that he was not required to answer any questions that might incriminate him, that all other questions had to be answered truthfully at the risk of his being charged with perjury, and that if he desired a lawyer he could have one, but not inside the grand jury room. On the basis of false statements made by the respondent before the grand jury, he was charged with willfully and knowingly making a false material declaration to the grand jury in violation of 18 USCS 1623. Subsequently, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas granted the respondent's motion to suppress, in the respondent's perjury prosecution, his concededly false statements before the grand jury because the respondent had not been given full Miranda warnings at his grand jury appearance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed, ruling that although certain warnings had been given to the respondent, full Miranda warnings should have been accorded him since he was in the position of a putative defendant, and that the totality of the circumstances commanded suppression of all the testimony on which the charge of perjury rested.
Was a grand jury witness entitled to Miranda warnings, without which, his testimonies before the grand jury could be suppressed?
On certiorari, the Court held that the grand jury witness was not entitled to Miranda warnings because he was not a suspect in police custody. The Court held that as a witness before a grand jury, respondent did not have Miranda rights. The Court averred that U.S. Const. amend. V gave a witness a right to refuse to answer questions that would incriminate him, but it did not give him the right to commit perjury and then have his statements suppressed as incriminating.