Noncriminal and Investigatory Proceedings.—Commitment proceedings which lead to the imposition of essentially criminal punishment are subject to the due process clause and require the assistance of counsel.308 A state administrative investigation by a fire marshal inquiring into the causes of a fire was held not to be a criminal proceeding and hence, despite the fact that the petitioners had been committed to jail for noncooperation, not the type of hearing at which counsel was requisite.309 Another decision refused to extend the right to counsel to investigative proceedings antedating a criminal prosecution, and sustained the contempt conviction of private detectives who refused to testify before a judge authorized to conduct a non-prosecutorial, fact-finding inquiry akin to a grand jury proceeding, and who based their refusal on the ground that their counsel were required to remain outside the hearing room.310
308 Specht v. Patterson, 386 U.S. 605 (1967).
309 In re Groban, 352 U.S. 330 (1957). Four Justices dissented.
310 Anonymous v. Baker, 360 U.S. 287 (1959). Four Justices dissented.
Last modified: June 9, 2014