405 U.S. 278 (1972), 70-5038, Adams v. Illinois

Docket Nº:No. 70-5038
Citation:405 U.S. 278, 92 S.Ct. 916, 31 L.Ed.2d 202
Party Name:Adams v. Illinois
Case Date:March 06, 1972
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 278

405 U.S. 278 (1972)

92 S.Ct. 916, 31 L.Ed.2d 202

Adams

v.

Illinois

No. 70-5038

United States Supreme Court

March 6, 1972

Argued December 7, 1971

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

Syllabus

Petitioner's pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment against him because of the court's failure to appoint counsel to represent him at the preliminary hearing in 1967 was denied, and petitioner was tried and convicted. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed on the ground that Coleman v. Alabama, 399 U.S. 1, in which this Court held that a preliminary hearing is a critical stage of the criminal process at which the accused is constitutionally entitled to assistance of counsel, did not have retroactive application.

Held: The judgment is affirmed. Pp. 280-286.

46 Ill.2d 200, 263 N.E.2d 490, affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, joined by MR. JUSTICE STEWART and MR. JUSTICE WHITE, concluded that Coleman v. Alabama, supra, does not apply retroactively to preliminary hearings conducted before June 22, 1970, when Coleman was decided. Pp. 281-285.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER concurred in the result, concluding, as set forth in his dissent in Coleman, that there is no constitutional requirement that counsel should be provided at preliminary hearings. Pp. 285-286.

MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN concurred in the result, concluding that Coleman was wrongly decided. P. 286.

BRENNAN, J., announced the Court's judgment and delivered an opinion, in which STEWART and WHITE, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 285. BLACKMUN, J., filed a statement concurring in the result, post, p. 286. DOUGLAS J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 286. POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 279

BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN announced the judgment of the Court and an opinion, in which MR. JUSTICE STEWART and MR. JUSTICE WHITE join.

In Coleman v. Alabama, 399 U.S. 1, decided June 22, 1970, we held that a preliminary hearing is a critical stage of the criminal process at which the accused is constitutionally entitled to the assistance of counsel. This case presents the question whether that constitutional doctrine applies retroactively to preliminary hearings conducted prior to June 22, 1970.

The Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, conducted a preliminary hearing [92 S.Ct. 918] on February 10, 1967, on a charge against petitioner of selling heroin. Petitioner was not represented by counsel at the hearing. He was bound over to the grand jury, which indicted him. By pretrial motion, he sought dismissal of the indictment on the ground that it was invalid because of the failure of the court to appoint counsel to represent him at the preliminary hearing. The motion was denied on May 3, 1967, on the authority of People v. Morris, 30 Ill.2d 406, 197 N.E.2d 433 (1964). In Morris. the Illinois Supreme Court held that the Illinois preliminary hearing was not a critical stage at which the accused had a constitutional right to the assistance of counsel. Petitioner's conviction was affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court, which rejected petitioner's argument that the later Coleman decision required reversal. The court acknowledged that its Morris decision was superseded by Coleman,1 but

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held that Coleman applied only to preliminary hearings conducted after June 22, 1970, the date Coleman was decided. 46 Ill.2d 200, 263 N.E.2d 490 (1970). We granted certiorari limited to the question of the retroactivity of Coleman. 401 U.S. 953 (1971). We affirm.

The criteria guiding resolution of the question of the retroactivity of new constitutional rules of criminal procedure

implicate (a) the purpose to be served by the new standards, (b) the extent of the reliance by law enforcement authorities on the old standards, and (c) the effect on the administration of justice of a retroactive application of the new standards.

Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 297 (1967). We have given complete retroactive effect to the new rule, regardless of good faith reliance by law enforcement authorities or the degree of impact on the administration of justice, where the

major purpose of new constitutional doctrine is to overcome an aspect of the criminal trial that substantially impairs its truthfinding function and so raises serious questions about the accuracy of guilty verdicts in past trials. . . .

Williams v. United States, 401 U.S. 646, 653 (1971). Examples are the right to counsel at trial, Gideon v.

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Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963); on appeal, Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353 (1963); or at some forms of arraignment, Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52 (1961). See generally Stovall v. Denno, supra, at 297-298; Williams v. United States, supra, at 653 n. 6.

However,

the question whether a constitutional rule of criminal procedure does or does not enhance the reliability of the factfinding process at trial is necessarily a matter of degree,

Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719, 728-729 (1966); it is a "question of probabilities." Id. at 729. Thus, although the rule requiring the assistance of counsel at a lineup, United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218 (1967); Gilbert v. California, 388 U.S. 263 (1967), [92 S.Ct. 919] is "aimed at avoiding unfairness at the trial by enhancing the reliability of the factfinding process in the area of identification evidence," we held that the probabilities of infecting the integrity of the truth-determining process by denial of counsel at the lineup were sufficiently less than the omission of counsel at the trial itself or on appeal that those probabilities

must, in turn, be weighed against the prior justified reliance upon the old standard and the impact of retroactivity upon the administration of justice.

Stovall v. Denno, supra, at 298.

We hold that similarly the role of counsel at the preliminary hearing differs sufficiently from the role of counsel at trial in its impact upon the integrity of the factfinding process as to require the weighing of the probabilities of such infection against the elements of prior justified reliance and the impact of retroactivity upon the administration of criminal justice. We may lay aside the functions of counsel at the preliminary hearing that do not bear on the factfinding process at trial -- counsel's help in persuading the court not to hold the accused for the grand jury or meanwhile to admit the accused to bail. Coleman, 399 U.S. at 9. Of counsel's other functions -- to "fashion a vital impeachment

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tool for use in cross-examination of the State's witnesses at the trial," to "discover the case the State has against his client," "making effective arguments for the accused on such matters as the necessity for an early psychiatric examination . . . ," ibid. -- impeachment and discovery may make particularly significant contribution to the enhancement of the factfinding process, since they materially affect an accused's ability to present an effective defense at trial. But because of limitations upon the use of the preliminary hearing for discovery and impeachment purposes, counsel cannot be as effectual as at trial or on appeal. The authority of the court to terminate the preliminary hearing once probable cause is established, see People v. Bonner, 37 Ill.2d 553, 560, 229 N.E.2d 527, 531 (1967), means that the degree of discovery obtained will vary depending on how much evidence the presiding judge receives. Too, the preliminary hearing is held at an early stage of the prosecution, when the evidence ultimately gathered by the prosecution may not be complete. Cf. S.Rep. No. 371, 90th Cong., 1st Sess., 33, on amending 18 U.S.C. § 3060. Counsel must also avail himself of alternative procedures, always a significant factor to be weighed in the scales. Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. at 730. Illinois provides, for example, bills of particulars and discovery of the names of prosecution witnesses. Ill.Rev.Stat., c. 38, §§ 114-2, 114-9, 114-10 (1971). Pretrial statements of prosecution witnesses may also be obtained for use for impeachment purposes. See, e.g., People v. Johnson, 31 Ill.2d 602, 203 N.E.2d 399 (1964).

We accordingly agree with the conclusion of the Illinois Supreme Court,

On this scale of probabilities, we judge that the lack of counsel at a preliminary hearing involves less danger to "the integrity of the truth-determining process at trial" than the omission of counsel at the trial

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itself or on appeal. Such danger is not ordinarily greater, we consider, at a preliminary hearing at which the accused is unrepresented than at a pretrial line-up or at an interrogation conducted without presence of an attorney.

46 Ill.2d at 207, 263 N.E.2d at 494.2

[92 S.Ct. 920] We turn then to weighing the probabilities that the denial of counsel at the preliminary hearing will infect the integrity of the factfinding process at trial against the prior justified reliance upon the old standard and the impact of retroactivity upon the administration of justice. We do not think that law enforcement authorities are to be faulted for not anticipating Coleman. There was no clear foreshadowing of that rule. A contrary inference was not unreasonable in light of our decisions in Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52, and White v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 59 (1963). Hamilton denominated the arraignment stage in Alabama critical because defenses not asserted at that stage might be forever lost. White held that an uncounseled plea of guilty at a Maryland preliminary hearing could not be introduced by the State at trial. Many state courts not unreasonably regarded Hamilton and White as fashioning limited constitutional rules governing...

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