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Name: Ohio v. Reiner
Case #: 00-1028
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 03/19/2001
Subsequent History: None

A witness’s assertion of innocence does not deprive her of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The privilege protects the innocent as well as the guilty. Defendant was tried for death of his son, who died from shaken baby syndrome. Witness Batt, the family babysitter, had been granted transactional immunity after asserting the Fifth Amendment privilege and testified she had nothing to do with the child’s injuries. The state Supreme court had held that she had wrongfully been granted immunity because her testimony did not incriminate her, and it prejudiced the defendant because it effectively told the jury she did not cause the injuries. Batt was with the child within the potential time frame of the fatal trauma and it was the defense theory that she was the culprit. Under those circumstances, it was reasonable for her to fear that her answers to possible questions could incriminate her.