384 U.S. 719 (1966), 762, Johnson v. New Jersey

Docket Nº:No. 762
Citation:384 U.S. 719, 86 S.Ct. 1772, 16 L.Ed.2d 882
Party Name:Johnson v. New Jersey
Case Date:June 20, 1966
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 719

384 U.S. 719 (1966)

86 S.Ct. 1772, 16 L.Ed.2d 882

Johnson

v.

New Jersey

No. 762

United States Supreme Court

June 20, 1966

Argued February 28, March 1-2, 1966

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ' NEW JERSEY

Syllabus

Petitioners' confessions were offered in evidence by the State in their trial for felony murder, at which they were found guilty and sentenced to death. Their convictions became final six years ago. On collateral attack, petitioners now argue that the confessions were inadmissible under Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that Escobedo did not apply retroactively.

Held:

1. Neither Escobedo nor Miranda v. Arizona, ante p. 436, which set down additional guidelines, is to be applied retroactively. Pp. 726-735.

(a) Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, and Tehan v. Shott, 382 U.S. 406, established the principle that, in criminal litigation concerning constitutional claims, the Court may make a rule of criminal procedure prospective, basing its determination upon the purpose of the new standards, the reliance placed on the prior decisions on the subject, and the effect on the administration of justice of a retroactive application of the rule. Pp. 726-727.

(b) The choice between retroactivity and nonretroactivity does not depend on the value of the constitutional guarantee involved or the provision of the Constitution on which the dictate is based, but takes account of the extent to which other safeguards are available to protect the integrity of the truth-determining process at trial. Pp. 728-729.

(c) While Escobedo and Miranda guard against the possibility of unreliable statements in cases of in-custody interrogation, they cover situations where the danger is not necessarily as great as when the accused is subjected to overt and obvious coercion. P. 730.

(d) For persons whose trials have already been completed, the case law on coerced confessions is available if the procedural prerequisites for direct or collateral attack are met. P. 730.

(e) Law enforcement agencies fairly relied on prior cases, now no longer binding, in obtaining incriminating statements during the years preceding Escobedo and Miranda, and retroactive

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application of those cases would seriously disrupt administration of the criminal laws. P. 731.

(f) Escobedo and Miranda should apply only to case where the trials have commenced after the decision were announced, June 22, 1964, and June 13, 1966, respectively. Pp. 733-735.

2. The other grounds asserted by petitioners which may be tested by this review are without merit; their contentions relating to the voluntariness of their confessions are beyond the scope of the review in this proceeding. P. 735.

43 N.J. 572, 20 A.2d 737, affirmed.

Page 721

WARREN, J., lead opinion

Opinion of the Court by MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN, announced by MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN

In this case, we are called upon to determine whether Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964), and Miranda v. Arizona, ante, p. 436, should be applied retroactively. We hold that Escobedo affects only those cases in which the trial began after June 22, 1964, the date of that decision. We hold further that Miranda applies only to cases in which the trial began after the date of our decision one week ago. The convictions assailed here were obtained at trials completed long before Escobedo and Miranda were rendered, and the rulings in those cases are therefore inapplicable to the present proceeding. Petitioners have also asked us to overturn their convictions on a number of other grounds, but we find these contentions to be without merit, and consequently we affirm the decision below.

Petitioner Cassidy was taken into custody in Camden, New Jersey, at 4 a.m. on January 29, 1958, for felony murder. The police took him to detective headquarters and interrogated him in a systematic fashion for several hours. At 9 a.m., he was brought before the chief detective, two other police officers, and a court stenographer.

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The chief detective introduced the persons present, informed Cassidy of the possible charges against him, gave him the warning set forth in the margin,1 concluded that he understood the warning, and obtained his consent to be questioned. Cassidy was then interrogated until 10:25 a.m., and made a partial confession to felony murder. The stenographer recorded this interrogation and read it back to Cassidy for his acknowledgment. Police officers then took him to another part of the building and apparently questioned him further. At 12:15 p.m., he was brought back to the chief detective's office for another half hour of recorded interrogation. Under circumstances similar to those already described, Cassidy amended his confession to add vital incriminating details. For the next 11 hours, he was held in a detention room, and may have been subjected to further questioning. At 11:40 p.m., the police returned him to the chief detective's office for a final brief round of recorded interrogation. Taken together, Cassidy's three formal statements added up to a complete confession of felony murder, and they were later introduced against him at his trial for that crime.

While the present collateral proceeding was pending following our decision in Escobedo, Cassidy filed affidavits in the New Jersey Supreme Court which detailed for the first time certain supposed circumstances of his confession. In his own affidavit, he claimed that, on at least five separate occasions during his interrogation, he asked for permission to consult a lawyer or to contact relatives. The police allegedly either ignored these requests

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or told him that he could not communicate with others until his statement was completed. Cassidy also produced affidavits from his mother, his uncle, and his aunt, claiming that, during this period, they called the detective headquarters at least three times, and once appeared there in person, seeking information about Cassidy and an opportunity to speak with him. Their efforts allegedly were thwarted by the police. These belated claims were left uncontroverted by the State, and were accepted as true by the court below for purposes of the Escobedo issue.

The police took petitioner Johnson into custody in Newark, New Jersey, at 5 p.m. on January 29, 1958, for the same crime as Cassidy. He was taken to detective headquarters, and was booked. Later in the evening, the police brought him before a magistrate for a brief preliminary hearing. The record is unclear as to what transpired there. Both before and after the appearance in court, he was questioned in a routine manner. At 2 a.m., the police drove Johnson by auto to Camden, the scene of the homicide, 80 miles from Newark. During the auto ride, he was again interrogated about the crime. Upon arrival in Camden at about 4:30 a.m., the police took him directly to detective headquarters and brought him before the chief detective, three other police officers, and a court stenographer. As in Cassidy's case, Johnson was introduced to the persons present, informed of the possible charges against him, and given the same warning already set forth. He stated that he understood the warning and was willing to be questioned under those conditions. The police then interrogated him until 6:20 a.m., a period of about one and one-half hours. During the course of the questioning, he made a full confession to the crime of felony murder. This interrogation was recorded by the stenographer and read back to Johnson for his acknowledgment.

Page 724

Like Cassidy, Johnson filed affidavits in the New Jersey Supreme Court in this collateral proceeding following our decision in Escobedo, detailing for the first time certain supposed circumstances of his confession. In his own affidavit, he claimed that, at four separate points during the period described above, he asked for permission to consult a lawyer or to contact relatives so that they could obtain a lawyer for him. As in Cassidy's case, the police allegedly either ignored these requests or told him that he could not communicate with others until he had given a statement. Johnson also produced affidavits from his mother and his girlfriend, claiming that, on three occasions after the homicide and prior to the confession, they called detective headquarters or went there in person, seeking information about Johnson and an opportunity to speak with him. Their efforts allegedly were rebuffed by the police. These belated claims, like Cassidy's, were left uncontroverted by the State, and were accepted as true by the court below for resolution of the Escobedo issue.

The confessions of Johnson and Cassidy were offered in evidence by the State at their joint trial for felony murder. The judge held a hearing out of the...

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