SARNO v. ILLINOIS CRIME COMM'N

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
70-7
Petitioner 
Albert Sarno, Chris Cardi
Respondent 
Illinois Crime Investigating Commission
Advocates
(for the petitioner)
(for the respondent)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

The Illinois Crime Investigating Commission was created to investigate organized crime in Illinois. Albert Sarno and Chris Cardi were police officers. The Commission wanted the officers to testify pursuant to an investigation of a "juice loan" or "loan shark" racket.

On February 8, 1968, the presiding judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County entered an order requiring the petitioners to appear before the commission under a grant of immunity pursuant to an Illinois statute. On February 24, 1968, the officers appeared, but they refused to answer any questions pleading their right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment.

On March 21, 1968, the Commission filed a motion in the Circuit court, and moved the court to enter an order directing the petitioners to appear before the Commission and answer the questions. The officers filed a motion to dismiss or to strike the foregoing motion. The officers' motion was denied, and the court entered an order directing the petitioners to appear before the Commission and to answer the questions. The officers refused to obey this subsequent order, still pleading the Fifth Amendment. The officers were found in contempt of court and sentenced to serve a period of six months in the County Jail. The decision of the trial court was appealed and subsequently affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court. The officers appealed to the Supreme Court.

Question 

If an unwilling witness invokes his privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, can a state make that witness testify by granting that witness immunity?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Illinois Crime Comm'n, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Writ Improvidently Granted

Yes. In a per curiam opinion, the Court cited its own decision in Kastigar v. United States, and held that testimony may be compelled from an unwilling witness over a claim of Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination by the grant of immunity. The Court further determined that any questions regarding the scope of protection under the Illinois immunity statute was best left to the courts of Illinois, meaning that the writ of certiorari was improperly granted. The Supreme Court dismissed the Writ.

Justice William O. Douglas dissented for the reasons state in his dissenting opinion in Kastigar v. United States. Justice Thurgood Marshall dissented for the reasons stated in his dissenting opinion in Kastigar v. United States. Justice William J. Brennan and Justice William H. Rehnquist took no part in the consideration of this case.

Cite this Page
SARNO v. ILLINOIS CRIME COMM'N. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 13 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_7>.
SARNO v. ILLINOIS CRIME COMM'N, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_7 (last visited December 13, 2014).
"SARNO v. ILLINOIS CRIME COMM'N," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 13, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_7.