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Malloy v. Hogan

Significance

Malloy reversed the Court's long-standing view that the Fourteenth Amendment only required state courts to follow a policy of fundamental fairness towards criminal defendants. Here, for the first time, the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination was made applicable to state defendants.

William Malloy was initially arrested during a gambling raid in 1959 by Hartford, Connecticut, police. He pleaded guilty to the lesser crime of misdemeanor, and was sentenced to a year in jail and a fine of $500. After he had served 90 days, his sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for two years.

About a year later, Malloy was ordered to testify at a state inquiry into gambling and other crimes. When he was asked several questions about his arrest and conviction, Malloy refused to answer "on the grounds it may tend to incriminate [him]." The Connecticut Superior Court ruled him in contempt of court and sent him to prison until he was willing to answer the questions put to him. Malloy petitioned the superior court for a writ of habeas corpus--a request to be released on grounds that he had been unlawfully detained. The court rejected his petition, and this rejection was upheld on appeal. Malloy then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review of this decision.

The Court had long held, in decisions such as Twining v. State of New Jersey (1904) and Adamson v. California (1947), that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination did not apply in state courts. In Twining and Adamson, the issue was that the prosecution drew attention to the defendant's failure to testify in his own defense. In both cases, the defendant's appeal of his conviction failed. The Supreme Court reasoned, even as late as 1961, in Cohen v. Hurley, that state courts were only obliged to show fundamental fairness to criminal defendants.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Malloy v. Hogan - Significance, Right To Remain Silent, Transactional Immunity