The Supreme Court: Extending the Fifth

"The American system of criminal prosecution," wrote Justice William Brennan, "is accusatorial, not inquisitorial, and the Fifth Amendment is its essential mainstay." With those words, Brennan last week announced the Supreme Court's decision to reverse the contempt conviction of a small-time Connecticut 52-year-old gambler named William Malloy and extend the protection of the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination to witnesses and defendants, whatever their status, in all state courts.

When a Hartford County crime commission three years ago tried to question Malloy about his employer and finances at the time of his...

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