391 U.S. 346 (1968), 794, Darwin v. Connecticut

Docket Nº:No. 794, Misc.
Citation:391 U.S. 346, 88 S.Ct. 1488, 20 L.Ed.2d 630
Party Name:Darwin v. Connecticut
Case Date:May 20, 1968
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 346

391 U.S. 346 (1968)

88 S.Ct. 1488, 20 L.Ed.2d 630




No. 794, Misc.

United States Supreme Court

May 20, 1968




Petitioner was arrested for murder on December 6, 1963, and held incommunicado by police officers for 30 to 48 hours, during which they sought and finally obtained his confession. Three requests by petitioner to communicate with the outside world, numerous attempts by his lawyers to communicate with him or the officer in charge of him, and the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus by a state court judge were unavailing. The trial judge found that it was "routine procedure" for investigating officers not to be disturbed during an investigation. While thus held, petitioner was subjected by officers to questioning. Although the trial judge excluded from evidence an oral confession given on December 7 after petitioner had "either faint[ed] or pretend[ed] to faint," and a written confession made shortly thereafter, the judge admitted a written confession given the next day, December 8, and evidence as to a partial reenactment of the crime. During that reenactment, as he had done intermittently while in custody, petitioner disclaimed guilt. Petitioner was convicted, and the State Supreme Court affirmed.

Held: In view of the "totality of the circumstances" and the absence of any "break in the stream of events" insulating the final events "from the effect of all that went before" (Clewis v. Texas, 386 U.S. 707, 708, 710), the trial judge erred in holding the December 8 confession and partial reenactment voluntary.

Certiorari granted; 155 Conn. 124, 230 A.2d 573, reversed and remanded.

Per curiam opinion.


Petitioner was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Connecticut Supreme

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Court affirmed the judgment. 155 Conn. 124, 230 A.2d 573 (1967). Petitioner seeks a writ of certiorari from this Court. We grant the writ, and reverse.

On Friday, December 6, 1963, petitioner was arrested on a coroner's warrant charging him with murder. During that entire day until 9 p.m., petitioner was subjected to questioning. Sometime that evening, the officer in charge brought in a revolving disc and sought to persuade petitioner to look at it and "relax." The trial judge said that "[the officer] was not completely unaware that this was a common hypnotic device." The wheel turned for about half an hour, but petitioner refused to look at it.

The next morning, the questioning resumed and continued intermittently until about 4 p.m., when petitioner fell forward, according to the trial judge, "either fainting or pretending to faint." He was revived and then confessed to the murder, as hereinafter described, in response to questioning by the officer in charge.


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