354 U.S. 449 (1957), 521, Mallory v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 521
Citation:354 U.S. 449, 77 S.Ct. 1356, 1 L.Ed.2d 1479
Party Name:Mallory v. United States
Case Date:June 24, 1957
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 449

354 U.S. 449 (1957)

77 S.Ct. 1356, 1 L.Ed.2d 1479



United States

No. 521

United States Supreme Court

June 24, 1957

Argued April 1, 1957.




Petitioner was convicted in a Federal District Court of rape, and sentenced to death after a trial in which there was admitted in evidence a confession obtained under the following circumstances: he was arrested early in the afternoon, and was detained at police headquarters within the vicinity of numerous committing magistrates. He was not told of his right to counsel or to a preliminary examination before a magistrate, nor was he warned that he might keep silent and that any statement made by him might be used against him. Not until after petitioner had confessed, about 9:30 p.m., was an attempt made to take him before a committing magistrate, and he was not actually taken before a magistrate until the next morning.

Held: this was a violation of Rule 5(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which requires that an arrested person be taken before a committing magistrate "without unnecessary delay," and the conviction is reversed. McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332; Upshaw v. United States, 335 U.S. 410. Pp. 449-456.

98 U.S.App.D.C. 406, 236 F.2d 701, reversed and remanded.

FRANKFURTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner was convicted of rape in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and, as authorized by the District Code, the jury imposed a

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death sentence. The Court of Appeals affirmed, one judge dissenting. 98 U.S.App.D.C. 406, 236 F.2d 701. Since an important question involving the interpretation of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure was involved in this capital case, we granted the petition for certiorari. 352 U.S. 877.

The rape occurred at six p.m. on April 7, 1954, in the basement of the apartment house inhabited by the victim. She had descended to the basement a few minutes previous to wash some laundry. Experiencing some difficulty in detaching a hose in the sink, she sought help from the janitor, who lived in a basement apartment with his wife, two grown sons, a younger son and the petitioner, his nineteen-year-old half-brother. Petitioner was alone in the apartment at the time. He detached the hose and returned to his quarters. Very shortly thereafter, a masked man, whose general features were identified to resemble those of petitioner and his two grown nephews, attacked the woman. She had heard no one descend the wooden steps that furnished the only means of entering the basement from above.

Petitioner and one of his grown nephews disappeared from the apartment house shortly after the crime was committed. The former was apprehended the following afternoon between two and two-thirty p.m., and was taken, along with his older nephews, also suspects, to police headquarters. At least four officers questioned him there in the presence of other officers for thirty to forty-five minutes, beginning the examination by telling him, according to his testimony, that his brother had said that he was the assailant. Petitioner strenuously denied his guilt. He spent the rest of the afternoon at headquarters, in the company of the other two suspects and his brother a good part of the time. About four p.m., the three suspects were asked to submit to "lie detector" tests, and they agreed. The officer in charge of the polygraph

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machine was not located for almost two hours, during which time the suspects received food and drink. The nephews were then examined first. Questioning of petitioner began just after eight p.m. Only he and the polygraph operator were present in a small room, the door to which was closed.

[77 S.Ct. 1358] Following almost an hour and one-half of steady interrogation, he "first stated that he could have done this crime, or that he might have done it. He finally stated that he was responsible. . . ." (Testimony of polygraph operator, R. 70.) Not until ten p.m., after petitioner had repeated his confession to other officers, did the police attempt to reach a United States Commissioner for the purpose of arraignment. Failing in this, they obtained petitioner's consent to examination by the deputy coroner, who noted no indicia of physical or psychological coercion. Petitioner was then confronted by the complaining witness and "[p]ractically every man in the Sex Squad," and, in response to questioning by three officers, he repeated the confession. Between eleven-thirty p.m. and twelve-thirty a.m., he dictated the confession to a typist. The next morning, he was brought before a Commissioner. At the trial, which was delayed for a year because of doubt about petitioner's capacity to understand the proceedings against him, the signed confession was introduced in evidence.

The case calls for the proper application of Rule 5(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, promulgated in 1946, 327 U.S. 821. That Rule provides:

(a) APPEARANCE BEFORE THE COMMISSIONER. An officer making an arrest under a warrant issued upon a complaint or any person making an arrest without a warrant shall take the arrested person without unnecessary delay before the nearest available commissioner or before any other nearby officer

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