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Legislative Notes


Governmental power to compel persons to testify in court is firmly established in American law. Both the constitutions of the United States and Ohio, however, set forth a privilege against compulsory self-incrimination. Statutes which empower a court to compel testimony over a claim of privilege against self-incrimination in return for protection against criminal punishment are called immunity statutes. Such statutes seek a rational accommodation between the constitutional imperatives of the privilege against self-incrimination and the governmental need for testimony. The United States Supreme Court has characterized immunity statutes as essential to the efficient enforcement of certain criminal statutes." Mr. Justice Frankfurter observed that immunity statutes have "become part of our constitutional fabric."

In Kastigar v. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States held that in order to compel testimony over a witness' claim of privilege against self-incrimination, a court must grant "use and derivative use" immunity to the witness. "Use and derivative use" immunity means that neither the actual compelled testimony nor information directly or indirectly derived from the compelled testimony may be used as evidence against the witness in any subsequent criminal action.

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