Colorado v. Connelly, No. 85-660

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtREHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, POWELL, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined, and in all but Part III-A of which BLACKMUN, J., joined. BLACKMUN
Citation479 U.S. 157,107 S.Ct. 515,93 L.Ed.2d 473
PartiesCOLORADO, Petitioner v. Francis Barry CONNELLY
Decision Date10 December 1986
Docket NumberNo. 85-660

479 U.S. 157
107 S.Ct. 515
93 L.Ed.2d 473
COLORADO, Petitioner

v.

Francis Barry CONNELLY.

No. 85-660.
Argued Oct. 8, 1986.
Decided Dec. 10, 1986.
Syllabus

Respondent approached a Denver police officer and stated that he had murdered someone and wanted to talk about it. The officer advised respondent of his Miranda rights, and respondent said that he understood those rights but still wanted to talk about the murder. Shortly thereafter, a detective arrived and again advised respondent of his rights. After respondent answered that he had come all the way from Boston to confess to the murder, he was taken to police headquarters. He then openly detailed his story to the police and subsequently pointed out the exact location of the murder. He was held overnight, and the next day he became visibly disoriented during an interview with the public defender's office and was sent to a state hospital for evaluation. Interviews with a psychiatrist revealed that respondent was following the "voice of God" in confessing to the murder. On the basis of the psychiatrist's testimony that respondent suffered from a psychosis that interfered with his ability to make free and rational choices and, although not preventing him from understanding his rights, motivated his confession, the trial court suppressed respondent's initial statements and custodial confession because they were "involuntary," notwithstanding the fact that the police had done nothing wrong or coercive in securing the confession. The court also found that respondent's mental state vitiated his attempted waiver of the right to counsel and the privilege against self-incrimination. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Federal Constitution requires a court to suppress a confession when the defendant's mental state, at the time he confessed, interfered with his "rational intellect" and his "free will," the very admission of the evidence in a court of law being sufficient state action to implicate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court further held that respondent's mental condition precluded his ability to make a valid waiver of his Miranda rights and that the State had not met its burden of proving a waiver by "clear and convincing evidence."

Held:

1. Coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to finding that a confession is not "voluntary" within the meaning of the Due Process Clause. Here, the taking of respondent's statements and their admission into evidence constituted no violation of that Clause. While a defendant's mental condition may be a "significant" factor in the "volun-

Page 158

tariness" calculus, this does not justify a conclusion that his mental condition, by itself and apart from its relation to official coercion, should ever dispose of the inquiry into constitutional "voluntariness." Pp. 163-167.

2. Whenever the State bears the burden of proof in a motion to suppress a statement allegedly obtained in violation of the Miranda doctrine, the State need prove waiver only by a preponderance of the evidence. Lego v. Twomey, 404 U.S. 477, 92 S.Ct. 619, 30 L.Ed.2d 618, reaffirmed. Thus, the Colorado Supreme Court erred in applying a "clear and convincing evidence" standard. That court also erred in its analysis of the question whether respondent had waived his Miranda rights. Notions of "free will" have no place in this area of constitutional law. Respondent's perception of coercion flowing from the "voice of God" is a matter to which the Federal Constitution does not speak. Pp. 167-171.

702 P.2d 722 (Colo.1985), reversed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, POWELL, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined, and in all but Part III-A of which BLACKMUN, J., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, post, p. 171. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 171. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 174.

Nathan B. Coats, Denver, Colo., for petitioner.

Andrew J. Pincus, Washington, D.C., for U.S., as amicus curiae, in support of the petitioner, by special leave of Court.

Thomas M. Van Cleave, III, Denver, Colo., for respondent.

Page 159

Chief Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case, the Supreme Court of Colorado held that the United States constitution requires a court to suppress a confession when the mental state of the defendant, at the time he made the confession, interfered with his "rational intellect" and his "free will." Because this decision seemed to conflict with prior holdings of this Court, we granted certiorari. 474 U.S. 1050, 106 S.Ct. 785, 88 L.Ed.2d 763 (1986). We conclude that the admissibility of this kind of statement is governed by state rules of evidence, rather than by our previous decisions regarding coerced confessions and Miranda waivers. We therefore reverse.

Page 160

I

On August 18, 1983, Officer Patrick Anderson of the Denver Police Department was in uniform, working in an off-duty capacity in downtown Denver. Respondent Francis Connelly approached Officer Anderson and, without any prompting, stated that he had murdered someone and wanted to talk about it. Anderson immediately advised respondent that he had the right to remain silent, that anything he said could be used against him in court, and that he had the right to an attorney prior to any police questioning. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). Respondent stated that he understood these rights but he still wanted to talk about the murder. Understandably bewildered by this confession, Officer Anderson asked respondent several questions. Connelly denied that he had been drinking, denied that he had been taking any drugs, and stated that, in the past, he had been a patient in several mental hospitals. Officer Anderson again told Connelly that he was under no obligation to say anything. Connelly replied that it was "all right," and that he would talk to Officer Anderson because his conscience had been bothering him. To Officer Anderson, respondent appeared to understand fully the nature of his acts. Tr. 19.

Shortly thereafter, Homicide Detective Stephen Antuna arrived. Respondent was again advised of his rights, and Detective Antuna asked him "what he had on his mind." Id., at 24. Respondent answered that he had come all the way from Boston to confess to the murder of Mary Ann Junta, a young girl whom he had killed in Denver sometime during November 1982. Respondent was taken to police headquarters, and a search of police records revealed that the body of an unidentified female had been found in April 1983. Respondent openly detailed his story to Detective Antuna and Sergeant Thomas Haney, and readily agreed to take the officers to the scene of the killing. Under Connelly's sole direction, the two officers and respondent pro-

Page 161

ceeded in a police vehicle to the location of the crime. Respondent pointed out the exact location of the murder. Throughout this episode, Detective Antuna perceived no indication whatsoever that respondent was suffering from any kind of mental illness. Id., at 33-34.

Respondent was held overnight. During an interview with the public defender's office the following morning, he became visibly disoriented. He began giving confused answers to questions, and for the first time, stated that "voices" had told him to come to Denver and that he had followed the directions of these voices in confessing. Id., at 42. Respondent was sent to a state hospital for evaluation. He was initially found incompetent to assist in his own defense. By March 1984, however, the doctors evaluating respondent determined that he was competent to proceed to trial.

At a preliminary hearing, respondent moved to suppress all of his statements. Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, a psychiatrist employed by the state hospital, testified that respondent was suffering from chronic schizophrenia and was in a psychotic state at least as of August 17, 1983, the day before he confessed. Metzner's interviews with respondent revealed that respondent was following the "voice of God." This voice instructed respondent to withdraw money from the bank, to buy an airplane ticket, and to fly from Boston to Denver. When respondent arrived from Boston, God's voice became stronger and told respondent either to confess to the killing or to commit suicide. Reluctantly following the command of the voices, respondent approached Officer Anderson and confessed.

Dr. Metzner testified that, in his expert opinion, respondent was experiencing "command hallucinations." Id., at 56. This condition interfered with respondent's "volitional abilities; that is, his ability to make free and rational choices." Ibid. Dr. Metzner further testified that Connelly's illness did not significantly impair his cognitive abilities. Thus, respondent understood the rights he had when Officer Ander-

Page 162

son and Detective Antuna advised him that he need not speak. Id., at 56-57. Dr. Metzner admitted that the "voices" could in reality be Connelly's interpretation of his own guilt, but explained that in his opinion, Connelly's psychosis motivated his confession.

On the basis of this evidence the Colorado trial court decided that respondent's statements must be suppressed because they were "involuntary." Relying on our decisions in Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 83 S.Ct. 745, 9 L.Ed.2d 770 (1963), and Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. 568, 81 S.Ct. 1860, 6 L.Ed.2d 1037 (1961), the court ruled that a confession is admissible only if it is a product of the defendant's rational intellect and "free will." Tr. 88. Although the court found that the police had done nothing wrong or coercive in securing respondent's confession, Connelly's illness destroyed his volition and compelled him to confess. Id., at 89. The trial...

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4363 practice notes
  • Bell v. Lynbaugh, No. B-87-401-CA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 3 Junio 1987
    ...623 F.2d at 937. The voluntariness test has been clarified by the United States Supreme Court in Colorado v. Connelly, ___ U.S. ___, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986). Official coercion is a "necessary predicate" to a finding of involuntariness within the meaning of the due process claus......
  • Bradford v. Davis, Nos. 15-99018
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 3 Mayo 2019
    ...of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant's Miranda waiver and confession were voluntary. Colorado v. Connelly , 479 U.S. 157, 168, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986). A prior coerced confession can "taint" a subsequent one. See Oregon v. Elstad , 470 U.S. 298, 310,......
  • United States v. Medina, EP-19-CR-3333-PRM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • 20 Julio 2020
    ...rights and the confession were voluntary." United States v. Raymer , 876 F.2d 383, 386 (5th Cir. 1989) (citing Colorado v. Connelly , 479 U.S. 157, 168–69, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986) ). Courts consider the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the defendant acted volu......
  • U.S. v. Arnold, No. 04-5384.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 18 Mayo 2007
    ...government must establish by preponderance of the evidence that the defendant knowingly waived his Miranda rights, Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 169, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986), and that any confession was voluntary, Lego v. Twomey, 404 U.S. 477, 489, 92 S.Ct. 619, 30 L.Ed.2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4371 cases
  • Bell v. Lynbaugh, No. B-87-401-CA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 3 Junio 1987
    ...623 F.2d at 937. The voluntariness test has been clarified by the United States Supreme Court in Colorado v. Connelly, ___ U.S. ___, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986). Official coercion is a "necessary predicate" to a finding of involuntariness within the meaning of the due process claus......
  • Bradford v. Davis, Nos. 15-99018
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 3 Mayo 2019
    ...of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant's Miranda waiver and confession were voluntary. Colorado v. Connelly , 479 U.S. 157, 168, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986). A prior coerced confession can "taint" a subsequent one. See Oregon v. Elstad , 470 U.S. 298, 310,......
  • United States v. Medina, EP-19-CR-3333-PRM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • 20 Julio 2020
    ...rights and the confession were voluntary." United States v. Raymer , 876 F.2d 383, 386 (5th Cir. 1989) (citing Colorado v. Connelly , 479 U.S. 157, 168–69, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986) ). Courts consider the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the defendant acted volu......
  • U.S. v. Arnold, No. 04-5384.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 18 Mayo 2007
    ...government must establish by preponderance of the evidence that the defendant knowingly waived his Miranda rights, Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 169, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986), and that any confession was voluntary, Lego v. Twomey, 404 U.S. 477, 489, 92 S.Ct. 619, 30 L.Ed.2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • ICEBERG AHEAD: WHY COURTS SHOULD PRESUME BIAS IN CASES OF EXTRANEOUS JUROR CONTACTS.
    • United States
    • Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 72 Nbr. 2, December 2021
    • 22 Diciembre 2021
    ...of persuasion on the issue as well."). (69.) See infra Part 1(D)(2). (70.) Remmer I, 347 U.S. at 229. (71.) Cf. Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167-68 (1986) (determining that the "'heavy' burden" imposed on the government to show that a defendant has waived her Miranda rights may be sa......
  • THE BURDENS OF THE EXCESSIVE FINES CLAUSE.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 2, November 2021
    • 1 Noviembre 2021
    ...accompanying text. (410.) See Colgan, supra note 123, at 1558-65, 1579-80. (411.) See supra Part II.A.2. (412.) Cf. Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 168-69 (1986) (assigning the burden of proof to the prosecution but only by a preponderance, satisfying the need for deterrence without ove......
  • Ai in the Courtroom: a Comparative Analysis of Machine Evidence in Criminal Trials
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of International Law Nbr. 51-2, January 2020
    • 1 Enero 2020
    ...See, e.g., Tehan v. United States, 383 U.S. 406, 416 (1966); United States v. Havens, 446 U.S. 620, 626 (1980); Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 166 (1986). For a more detailed discussion, see Jenia Iontcheva Turner, The Exclusionary Rule as a Symbol of the Rule of Law, 67 SMU L. REV. 82......
  • Do Judicial Instructions Aid in Distinguishing Between Reliable and Unreliable Jailhouse Informants?
    • United States
    • Criminal Justice and Behavior Nbr. 47-5, May 2020
    • 1 Mayo 2020
    ...The jury under fire: Myth, controversy, and reform. Oxford University Press.Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157 (1986).Connecticut Criminal Jury Instructions 2.5-3. (2010). https://jud.ct.gov/JI/Criminal/Criminal.pdfCutler, B. L., Dexter, H., & Penrod, S......

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