98 F.Supp. 866 (E.D.N.C. 1951), 541, Brown v. Crawford

Docket Nº:541
Citation:98 F.Supp. 866
Party Name:Brown v. Crawford
Case Date:July 19, 1951
Court:United States District Courts, 4th Circuit, Eastern District of North Carolina

Page 866

98 F.Supp. 866 (E.D.N.C. 1951)




No. 541.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina

July 19, 1951

Herman L. Taylor, Raleigh, N.C., Hosea V. Price, Winston-Salem, N.C., for petitioner.

Ralph Moody, Asst. Atty. Gen. of North Carolina, R. Brookes Peters, Jr., Gen. Counsel, State Highway & Public Works Commission, Raleigh, N.C., for respondent.

GILLIAM, District Judge.

The petitioner was convicted of the capital offense of rape in the Superior Court of North Carolina, sitting in Forsyth County, and thereupon sentenced to death as provided by the North Carolina statute. Before pleading to the indictment that petitioner moved to quash upon the ground that there had been systematic and arbitrary exclusion of Negroes solely on account of race. The Court heard evidence from the petitioner and afforded him and his counsel full and fair opportunity to substantiate the contention. Upon such evidence the trial Court ruled against petitioner and denied the motion. The evidence and conclusion of the trial Court are in the record.

Page 867

During the trial alleged statements of petitioner were offered by the State and objected to by petitioner on the ground that such statements were involuntary and, therefore, incompetent.

Following the North Carolina law and practice in its Courts, the jury was excused, petitioner's counsel was permitted to cross-examine the witnesses to whom the statements were made, petitioner gave his version of the conditions under which the statements were made, and petitioner was also allowed full opportunity to present such evidence as he wished in this respect. The Court ruled that the statements were voluntarily made, overruled the objection, and the statements were admitted for the jury's consideration. The evidence and the conclusion of the trial Judge are in the record.

Upon appeal to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the petitioner assigned as errors both the ruling of the trial Court in overruling the motion to quash the indictment and the admission of the confessions as evidence. The Supreme Court of North Carolina upheld the conviction and affirmed the judgment, saying in its opinion: 'A person accused of crime is entitled to have the charges against him performed by a jury in the selection of which there has been neither inclusion nor exclusion because of race. * * * This, the defendant has had in respect of both the grand and petit juries which performed in the case, or, at least, the contrary in respect of neither has been made to appear on the record. Hence, his claim of jury defect or irregularity is unavailing'; and 'The only basis of challenge to the competency of defendant's confession is that he was under arrest, being held without warrant, and was in custody at the time it was given. These circumstances, taken singly or all together, unless they amounted to coercion, were not sufficient in and of themselves to render a confession, otherwise voluntary, involuntary as a matter of law and incompetent as evidence. * * *' After preliminary investigation, pursuant to the procedure outlined in State v. Whitener, 191 N.C. 659, 132 S.E. 603, the trial court ruled the confession to be voluntary and permitted the solicitor to offer it in evidence against the prisoner. * * * The ruling is fully supported by the evidence * * * . The contentions of error in its admission are without force or substance.'

A petition for writ of certiorari was then filed in the Supreme Court, assigning as ground the two alleged errors presented to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, and on May 28, 1951 this petition was denied by order containing this notation: 'Mr. Justice Black and Mr. Justice Douglas are of the opinion that certiorari should be granted.'

It is not asserted or even suggested by the petitioner that adequate remedies are...

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