2. What if Braswell’s company was a sole proprietorship rather than a corporation? What if he ran it alone out of his apartment? When should the Fifth Amendment start or stop protecting him?
Braswell was the sole shareholder and officer in two companies engaged in brokering timer, land, oil interests, and machinery. Federal authorities that were investigating Braswell’s business subpoenaed his business records and Braswell refused to hand over the documents. Braswell argued that when a business is small that is nothing more than a person’s “alter ego,” the Fifth Amendment safeguards should apply.