TRW, Inc. v. Superior Court – Case Brief Summary (California)

In TRW, Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 1834, a physicist employed by a defense contractor was fired after he refused to attend an internal security interview without an attorney. The physicist contended his termination violated his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The appellate court disagreed, finding TRW was not a government agent. (Id. at pp. 1844-1848.)

The court further found that even if TRW were an agent of the government, the physicist was not entitled to have a lawyer present because the interrogation was not custodial. (Id. at pp. 1849-1851.)

The physicist's argument that a reasonable person in his circumstances would believe the interrogation was custodial was belied by his own admissions and conduct.

He admitted knowing TRW could not arrest him and could only make allegations. Further, he spoke to Department of Defense officials without a lawyer. (Id. at p. 1852.)