State v. DelacruzAnnotate this Case
The district court erred in holding Defendant in contempt of court for invoking his constitutional right to remain silent.
Defendant was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to an eighty-three-month prison sentence. After his trial was completed, the State subpoenaed Defendant to be a witness at a codefendant’s murder trial. The State granted Defendant use immunity for his testimony, and the trial judge ordered Defendant to testify in the codefendant’s trial. Defendant, however, refused the judge’s order to testify. After the codefendant was convicted, a different judge held Defendant in contempt for failing to comply with the order of the court “to appear and testify under oath as a witness.” The judge then found Defendant guilty of direct criminal contempt and sentenced him to 108 months' imprisonment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the use immunity granted to Defendant was not coextensive with Defendant’s constitutional right against self-incrimination, and therefore, the judge’s order compelling Defendant’s testimony at his codefendant’s trial violated Defendant’s constitutional right against self-incrimination and was unlawful; and (2) the ensuing order finding Defendant in direct contempt of court for refusing to testify was likewise unlawful.