Maurice A. Hutcheson, 85, the general president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, AFL-CIO, from 1952 to 1972, died Jan. 9 in a hospital in Lakeland, Fla., after a heart attack. He had lived in Lakeland since retiring.

In addition to his post as head of the 800,000-member carpenters union, he was chairman of the AFL-CIO committee on social security and vice president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department.

As a vice president of the AFL, he participated in the talks that led to the 1955 merger of the AFL and the CIO. He also served on the executive councils of the AFL and the AFL-CIO.

In 1960, Mr. Hutcheson was found guilty in an Indiana court of bribery charges in a highway scandal. In 1963, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed this decision on the ground that there was no evidence to support the guilty verdict.

While under indictment in the Indiana case, Mr. Hutcheson was called before a Senate investigating committee to answer questions relating to the highway scandal.

He declined to answer, stating that those matters already were before a court and that the committee's insistence that he testify was denying him due process of law. He specifically refused to invoke his Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

The Senate committee thereupon cited him for contempt of Congress. In 1962, by a 4-to-2 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction in an opinion that said that Congress could exercise its right to investigate without automatically compromising the rights of a defendant in a criminal proceeding in a state court.

Mr. Hutcheson was born in Saginaw, Mich., and reared in Indianapolis. At the age of 17, he became an apprentice in the union's Local 75 in Indianapolis. He served in the Navy during World War I.

From 1928 to 1938, he was general representative of the carpenters union. He was its first general vice president prior to becoming general president in 1952. He succeeded his father, William L. Hutcheson, who was president for 37 years until his death.

Mr. Hutcheson's wife, Ethel, died in 1977. He leaves no immediate survivors.