On the Blue Ribbon committee hearing earlier this morning
The right against self-incrimination—in other words, the right not to testify against yourself—has two categories. Number one, the right against self-incrimination by the accused himself, and number two, the right against self-incrimination by a mere witness. If the accused himself altogether refused to testify, he can just say “I don’t want to testify” or “I don’t want to take the witness stand”, that is his right and it is recognized by our Constitution because there is a constitutionally protected right against self-incrimination for reasons of policy and for reasons of humanity. If you are a witness, that is a different story. You have to take the witness stand, you have to testify, and you cannot invoke the right against self-incrimination.
In the case of the Ligot couple, remember they are the accused. So if their lawyer produced more neurons in his brain, he would have advised the couple not to take the stand absolutely because that is their right. But they took the witness stand, so in effect they have waived their right to self-incrimination. They could now be forced to testify. They waived it because their lawyer did not counsel them otherwise. It will be the Blue Ribbon committee that will decide on whether the invocation of the right against self-incrimination is correct or not, so let them decide it.
With respect to the answer “I cannot remember”, there is a difference between the phrase “I cannot remember” and the phrase “It will tend to incriminate me”. The phrase “It will tend to incriminate me” excuses the witness but only if he is the accused. If he is the witness, then he must await for the decision on the matter of self-incrimination by the tribunal. On the matter of “I cannot remember”, that is a refusal to testify, and that could be ground for citing the witness in contempt. In any event, because they have given the answer “I cannot remember”, I would vote for contempt in that because to keep saying “I cannot remember” eternal amnesia is a virtual challenge to the tribunal to arrive at the truth. #