Twining v. New Jersey – Case Brief Summary

Summary of Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, 29 S. Ct. 14, 53 L. Ed. 97 (1908).

Facts

Albert Twining (D) was a director of the Monmouth Trust and Safe Deposit Company. He was convicted of knowingly providing false documents to an examiner of the State Banking Department with the intent to deceive regarding the financial condition of the bank.

Before jury deliberations began the trial judge instructed the jurors that they could draw unfavorable inferences against Twining for refusing to testify. Twining appealed his conviction on the grounds that the jury instruction was improper in light of the Due Process and Privileges and Immunities clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Issue

  • Does the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in criminal proceedings apply to the states?

Holding and Rule (Moody)

  • No. The Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination is not a fundamental right, immunity, or privilege of United States citizens, and it is not protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In order to prevail, Twining must show that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination applies to the states, and that his right was in fact violated.

The words “due process of law” in the Fourteenth Amendment are intended to protect the individual from the arbitrary exercise of powers of government. The Due Process Clause however only applies to federal courts and does not extend to the courts of states that have not adopted the right by their own laws.

The fact that exemption from compulsory self-incrimination is specifically enumerated in the Fifth Amendment shows that it was intended to be regarded as a separate right, and not as an element of due process of law.

Disposition

Judgment affirmed.

This ruling was affirmed in Adamson v. California, where the Supreme Court held that the Fifth Amendment was not incorporated into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore did not apply to the states.


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