Biggers v. State of Tennessee, No. 237

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; MARSHALL; DOUGLAS
Citation19 L.Ed.2d 1267,88 S.Ct. 979,390 U.S. 404
PartiesArchie Nathaniel BIGGERS, Petitioner, v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
Decision Date18 March 1968
Docket NumberNo. 237

390 U.S. 404
88 S.Ct. 979
19 L.Ed.2d 1267
Archie Nathaniel BIGGERS, Petitioner,

v.

STATE OF TENNESSEE.

No. 237.
Argued Jan. 15, 1968.
Decided March 18, 1968.
Rehearing Denied April 22, 1968.

See 390 U.S. 1037, 88 S.Ct. 1401.

Michael Meltsner, New York City, for petitioner.

Thomas E. Fox, Nashville, Tenn., for respondent.

PER CURIAM.

The judgment below is affirmed by an equally divided Court.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

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 af-

Page 405

firmed the judgment of conviction. Biggers v. State, 219 Tenn. 553, 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 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 followed. At the trial the daughter testified to what she had seen the evening of the rape, but was unable to identify petitioner as the rapist. The only evidence connecting him with the rape was Mrs.

Page 406

Beamer's station-house identification. She did not identify him in the courtroom.2 She testified that she had identified him by his size, his voice, his smooth skin, and his bushy hair. Three of the five police officers who were present at the identification testified over objection in corroboration of Mrs. Beamer's reaction at the confrontation. the confrontation.

This procedure of identification violates, of course, United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149; and Gilbert v. State of California, 388 U.S. 263, 87 S.Ct. 1951, 18 L.Ed.2d 1178. Those were cases of lineups and this was not. Yet, though they recognized a suspect's right to counsel at that critical stage, the Court announced they would not have retroactive effect.

Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199, and Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377, 88 S.Ct. 967, 19 L.Ed.2d 1247, make it clear, however, that independent of any right to counsel claim, a procedure of identification may be 'so unnecessarily suggestive and conducive to irreparable mistaken identification' that due process of law is denied when evidence of the identification is used at trial. Stovall v. Denno, supra, 388 U.S., at 302, 87 S.Ct., at 1972. The claim that Mrs. Beamer's identification of petitioner falls within this rule 'must be evaluated in light of the totality of surrounding circumstances' with the view of determining if the procedure in petitioner's case 'was so unduly prejudicial as fatally to taint his conviction.' Simmons v. United States, supra.

In Simmons, identification by use of photographs rather than a lineup was upheld because the bank rob-

Page 407

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151 practice notes
  • Gavin v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 26, 2003
    ...clear message that "the police suspect this man." Williams v. State, 546 So.2d 705, 706 (Ala.Crim.App.1989)(quoting Biggers v. Tennessee, 390 U.S. 404, 407, 88 S.Ct. 979, 981, 19 L.Ed.2d 1267, 1269 (1968)(Douglas, J., dissenting)(emphasis in original)). Second, a one-man showup does not giv......
  • State v. Reid, M1999-00803-CCA-R3-DD
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
    • May 31, 2001
    ...the jury after a consideration of all competent evidence. See Biggers v. State, 219 Tenn. 553, 411 S.W.2d 696, 697 (Tenn.), cert. granted, 390 U.S. 404, 88 S. Ct. 979 (1968) (affirmed on other grounds); Marable v. State, 203 Tenn. 440, 313 S.W.2d 451 (Tenn. 1958); State v. Crawford, 635 S.W......
  • Blount v. Davey, No. 1:16-cv-01653-DAD-SKO HC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • August 13, 2018
    ...police repeatedly sa[y] to the witness, 'This is the man.'" Foster v. California, 394 U.S. 440, 443 (1969) (citing Biggers v. Tennessee, 390 U.S. 404, 407 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting)). "[W]hat triggers due process concerns is police use of an unnecessarily suggestive identification pro......
  • Stupak-Thrall v. U.S., STUPAK-THRAL
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 23, 1996
    ...is in no sense binding as a rule of law. Examples of deviation from this practice abound. See, e.g., Biggers v. State of Tennessee, 390 U.S. 404, 404 n. 1, 88 S.Ct. 979, 979 n. 1, 19 L.Ed.2d 1267 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting) (collecting cases); Standard Indus., Inc. v. Tigrett Indus., I......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
151 cases
  • Gavin v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 26, 2003
    ...clear message that "the police suspect this man." Williams v. State, 546 So.2d 705, 706 (Ala.Crim.App.1989)(quoting Biggers v. Tennessee, 390 U.S. 404, 407, 88 S.Ct. 979, 981, 19 L.Ed.2d 1267, 1269 (1968)(Douglas, J., dissenting)(emphasis in original)). Second, a one-man showup does not giv......
  • State v. Reid, M1999-00803-CCA-R3-DD
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
    • May 31, 2001
    ...the jury after a consideration of all competent evidence. See Biggers v. State, 219 Tenn. 553, 411 S.W.2d 696, 697 (Tenn.), cert. granted, 390 U.S. 404, 88 S. Ct. 979 (1968) (affirmed on other grounds); Marable v. State, 203 Tenn. 440, 313 S.W.2d 451 (Tenn. 1958); State v. Crawford, 635 S.W......
  • Blount v. Davey, No. 1:16-cv-01653-DAD-SKO HC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • August 13, 2018
    ...police repeatedly sa[y] to the witness, 'This is the man.'" Foster v. California, 394 U.S. 440, 443 (1969) (citing Biggers v. Tennessee, 390 U.S. 404, 407 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting)). "[W]hat triggers due process concerns is police use of an unnecessarily suggestive identification pro......
  • Stupak-Thrall v. U.S., STUPAK-THRAL
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • July 23, 1996
    ...is in no sense binding as a rule of law. Examples of deviation from this practice abound. See, e.g., Biggers v. State of Tennessee, 390 U.S. 404, 404 n. 1, 88 S.Ct. 979, 979 n. 1, 19 L.Ed.2d 1267 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting) (collecting cases); Standard Indus., Inc. v. Tigrett Indus., I......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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