390 U.S. 404 (1968), 237, Biggers v. Tennessee

Docket Nº:No. 237
Citation:390 U.S. 404, 88 S.Ct. 979, 19 L.Ed.2d 1267
Party Name:Biggers v. Tennessee
Case Date:March 18, 1968
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 404

390 U.S. 404 (1968)

88 S.Ct. 979, 19 L.Ed.2d 1267




No. 237

United States Supreme Court

March 18, 1968

Argued January 15, 1968


___ Tenn. ___, 411 S.W.2d 696, affirmed by an equally divided Court.

Per curiam opinion.


The judgment below is affirmed by an equally divided Court.

MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

DOUGLAS, J., dissenting

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, dissenting.1

Petitioner was indicted for a rape committed when he was 16 years old, was convicted, and, after a trial by a jury, sentenced to 20 years, first to a juvenile facility and later to prison. The Supreme Court of Tennessee affirmed

Page 405

the judgment of conviction. Biggers v. State, ___ Tenn. ___, 411 S.W.2d 696.

On the night of January 22, 1965, Mrs. Beamer was at home sewing when an intruder with a butcher knife in his hand grabbed her from the rear. Her screams brought her 13-year-old daughter, who, arriving at the scene, also started to scream. The intruder said to Mrs. Beamer, "You tell her to shut up, or I'll kill you both." Mrs. Beamer ordered her daughter to a bedroom, and the intruder took Mrs. Beamer out of the house to a spot two blocks away and raped her.

During the next seven months the police showed Mrs. Beamer numerous police photographs, one of which, she [88 S.Ct. 980] said, showed a man who "had features" like the intruder. The case lay dormant. Mrs. Beamer was unable to describe the rapist other than to state he was fat and "flabby," had a youthful voice, smooth skin, and "sort of bushy" hair.

On August 17, 1965, petitioner, still only 16 years old, was arrested for the rape of another woman. On the same day, the police brought Mrs. Beamer to the police station to "look at a suspect." They brought petitioner to the doorway of the room where she sat. She asked the police to have him speak, and they told him to repeat the words spoken by the rapist, "Shut up, or I'll kill you." Only after he had spoken did Mrs. Beamer identify petitioner as the man who had raped her; she testified that it was petitioner's voice that "was the first thing that made me think it was the boy." So far as the record indicates, at the time of this confrontation, neither the parents of petitioner nor any attorney acting for him had been advised of the intended meeting with Mrs. Beamer.

The indictment...

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