Supreme Court Case: Garrity V. New Jersey

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Garrity came about in July of 1962, in Garrity V. New Jersey. Garrity The Attorney General investigated reports of “ticket fixing” in the Bellmawr Township in New Jersey. During the investigation six employees came under investigation. Three police officers from Barrington, a court clerk, an officer from Bellmawr, and Chief Edward Garrity.
Before being questioned, each employee was advised that:
1. Anything they said might be used in a criminal proceeding
2. They had the privilege to refuse to answer if the question would tend to be self-incriminatory
3. Refusal to answer would be grounds for removal from office
The employees answered all the questions, some of the questions were used which resulted in the convictions for conspiracy to obstruct. The employees argued that the statements used were a violation of their Fifth and Fourteenth amendments.
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Justice Douglas wrote the opinion. “The decision by the court was to overturn the officers ' convictions based upon the finding that they were coerced under the threat of the loss of their positions as public employees, specifically as police officers. The officers had a vested interest in their jobs, as it was their livelihood. The decision, needless to say, put public entities on notice that, although they have the right to compel employees to give a truthful statement to authorities about their actions as public servants, they could not also use the statement against them in a criminal action. The officers were entitled to immunity, as is any public servant.”
The Garrity warning is a protection that is utilized by many law enforcement officers each year. Garrity is an invocation that may be made by an officer being questioned regarding actions that may result in criminal
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