373 U.S. 503 (1963), 147, Haynes v. Washington

Docket Nº:No. 147
Citation:373 U.S. 503, 83 S.Ct. 1336, 10 L.Ed.2d 513
Party Name:Haynes v. Washington
Case Date:May 27, 1963
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 503

373 U.S. 503 (1963)

83 S.Ct. 1336, 10 L.Ed.2d 513




No. 147

United States Supreme Court

May 27, 1963

Argued February 26-27, 1963



In a Washington State Court, petitioner was tried on a charge of robbery, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. Over his timely objection, there was admitted in evidence a written confession obtained after he had been held incommunicado for 16 hours and had been told that he could not call his wife until he had signed it. In accordance with local practice, the question as to the voluntariness of the confession was left for determination by the jury, and it brought in a general verdict of guilty.

Held: On the record in this case, the confession was not voluntary, and its admission in evidence violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 504-520.

(a) A review of the entire record reveals that petitioner's account of the circumstances in which his written confession was obtained and signed was uncontradicted in its essential elements. Pp. 507-513.

(b) The uncontroverted portions of the record disclose that petitioner's written confession was obtained in, and was the result of, an atmosphere of substantial coercion and inducement created by statements and actions of state authorities, which made its admission in evidence violative of due process. Pp. 513-515.

(c) This Court cannot be precluded by the verdict of a jury from determining whether the circumstances under which a confession was obtained were such that its admission in evidence amounts to a denial of due process. Pp. 515-518.

58 Wash.2d 716, 364 P.2d 935, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

Page 504

GOLDBERG, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE GOLDBERG delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioner, Raymond L. Haynes, was tried in a Superior Court of the State of Washington on a charge of robbery, found guilty by a jury, and sentenced to imprisonment "for a term of not more than 20 years." The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, with four of nine judges dissenting. 58 Wash.2d 716, 364 P.2d 935. Certiorari was granted, 370 U.S. 902, to consider whether the admission of the petitioner's written and signed confession into evidence against him at trial constituted a denial of due process of law.

Haynes contends that the confession was involuntary, and thus constitutionally inadmissible, because induced by police threats and promises. He testified at trial that, during the approximately 16-hour period between the time of his arrest and the making and signing of the written confession, he several times asked police to allow him to call an attorney and to call his wife. He said that such requests were uniformly refused, and that he was repeatedly told that he would not be allowed to call unless and until he "cooperated" with police and gave them a written and signed confession admitting participation in the robbery. He was not permitted to phone his wife, or, for that matter, anyone, either on the night of his arrest or the next day. The police persisted in their refusals to allow him contact with the outside world, he said, even after he signed one written confession and after a preliminary hearing before a magistrate, late on the day following his arrest. According to the petitioner, he was, in fact, held incommunicado by the police until some five or seven days after his arrest.1

Page 505

The State asserts that the petitioner's version of events is contradicted, that the confession was freely given, and that, in any event, the question of voluntariness [83 S.Ct. 1339] was conclusively resolved against the petitioner by the verdict of the jury at trial. We consider each of these contentions in turn.


The petitioner was charged with robbing a gasoline service station in the City of Spokane, Washington, at about 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 19, 1957. He was arrested by Spokane police in the vicinity of the station within approximately one-half hour after the crime.2 Though he orally admitted the robbery to officers while en route to the police station, he was, on arrival there, not charged with the crime, but instead booked for "investigation," or, as it is locally called, placed on the "small book." Concededly, prisoners held on the "small book" are permitted by police neither to make phone calls nor to have any visitors.3

Shortly after arriving at the station at about 10 p.m., the petitioner was questioned for about one-half hour by Lieutenant Wakeley of the Spokane police, during which period he again orally admitted the crime. He was then placed in a line-up and identified by witnesses as one of the robbers. Apparently nothing else was done that night.

On the following morning, beginning at approximately 9:30 a.m., the petitioner was again questioned for about an hour and a half, this time by Detectives Peck and

Page 506

Cockburn. He once more orally admitted the robbery, and a written confession was transcribed. Shortly thereafter, he was taken to the office of the deputy prosecutor, where still another statement was taken and transcribed. Though Haynes refused to sign this second confession, he then did sign the earlier statement given to Detectives Peck and Cockburn.4 Later that same afternoon, he was taken before a magistrate for a preliminary hearing; this was at about 4 p.m. on December 20, the day after his arrest.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Haynes was transferred to the county jail, and, on either the following Tuesday or Thursday, was returned to the deputy prosecutor's office. He was again asked to sign the second statement which he had given there some four to six days earlier, but again refused to do so.

The written confession taken from Haynes by Detectives Peck and Cockburn on the morning after his arrest and signed by Haynes on the same day in the deputy prosecutor's office was introduced into evidence against the petitioner over proper and timely objection by his counsel that such use would violate due process of law. Under the Washington procedure then in effect,5 voluntariness of the confession was treated as a question of fact

Page 507

for ultimate determination by the jury. In overruling the petitioner's objection to use of the confession, the trial judge, however, made an apparently preliminary determination that it was voluntary, and "conditionally" admissible. [83 S.Ct. 1390] [83 S.Ct. 1340] See 58 Wash.2d at 719-720, 364 P.2d at 937. The evidence going to voluntariness was heard before the jury, and the issue submitted to it. The jury returned a general verdict of guilty, and was not required to, and did not, indicate its view with respect to the voluntariness of the confession.


The State first contends that the petitioner's version of the circumstances surrounding the making and signing of his written confession is evidentially contradicted, and thus should be rejected by this Court. We have carefully reviewed the entire record, however, and find that Haynes' account is uncontradicted in its essential elements.

Haynes testified that, on the evening of his arrest, he made several specific requests of the police that he be permitted to call an attorney and to call his wife. Each such request, he said, was refused. He stated, however, that he was told he might make a call if he confessed:

They kept wanting me to own up to robbing a Richfield Service Station, and I asked Mr. [Detective] Pike several times if I could call a lawyer, and he said, if I cooperated and gave him a statement . . . , that I would be allowed to call, to make a phone call. . . .

On cross-examination, Lieutenant Wakeley, the officer who interrogated the petitioner on the night of his arrest, first said that Haynes did not ask him for permission to call his wife, but merely inquired whether his wife would be notified of his arrest. Lieutenant Wakeley said that

Page 508

he told the petitioner that his wife would be notified.6 Defense counsel, however, pursued the point and, only a moment later, Wakeley testified that Haynes "may have" asked permission to call his wife himself; Wakeley said he didn't "remember exactly whether he asked, or whether we wouldn't notify his wife." Wakeley then testified that he simply didn't "remember" whether Haynes asked to call his wife so that she might secure a lawyer for him; in addition, the lieutenant admitted that the petitioner might have asked to call his wife after the interrogation was completed. Detective Pike, also testifying at trial, said simply that he had not talked to Haynes on the evening of the arrest.

If this were the only evidence of police coercion and inducement in the record, we would face the problem of determining whether, in view of the testimony of Lieutenant Wakeley and Detective Pike, the petitioner's own testimony would be sufficient, on review by this Court, to establish the existence of impermissible police conduct barring use of the written confession ultimately obtained. We need not pursue such an inquiry, however, since the record contains other probative, convincing, and uncontradicted evidence.

The written confession introduced at trial was dictated and transcribed while Haynes was being questioned by Detectives Peck and Cockburn on the morning of December 20, the day after the robbery. Haynes testified:

Q. . . . [S]tate whether or not the officers at that time asked you to give them a statement.

A. Yes.

Page 509

Q. And what was your answer to that?

A. I wanted to call my wife.

Q. And were you allowed to call your wife?

A. No.

Q. . . . This was on Friday?

A. Friday.

Q. December 20th?

A. Yes.

Q. And was anything else said with respect to making a telephone call?

A. Mr. Pike [sic] and the other officer both told me that, when I had made a statement and cooperated with them, that they would see to it that, as soon as I got booked, I...

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