Miller v. Pate, No. 250

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTEWART
Citation87 S.Ct. 785,17 L.Ed.2d 690,386 U.S. 1
PartiesLloyd Eldon MILLER, Jr., Petitioner, v. Frank J. PATE, Warden
Decision Date13 February 1967
Docket NumberNo. 250

386 U.S. 1
87 S.Ct. 785
17 L.Ed.2d 690
Lloyd Eldon MILLER, Jr., Petitioner,

v.

Frank J. PATE, Warden.

No. 250.
Argued Jan. 11 and 12, 1967.
Decided Feb. 13, 1967.

Willard J. Lassers, Chicago, Ill., for petitioner.

Richard A. michael, Chicago, Ill., for respondent.

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Maurice Rosenfield, Chicago, Ill., for Radio Station WAIT and others, as amici curiae.

Mr. Justice STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

On November 26, 1955, in Canton, Illinois, an eight-year-old girl died as the result of a brutal sexual attack. The petitioner was charged with her murder.

Prior to his trial in an Illinois court, his counsel filed a motion for an order permitting a scientific inspection of the physical evidence the prosecution intended to introduce.1 The motion was resisted by the prosecution and denied by the court. The jury trial ended in a verdict of guilty and a sentence of death. On appeal the judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Illinois.2 On the basis of leads developed at a subsequent unsuccessful state clemency hearing, the petitioner applied to a federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus.3 After a hearing, the court granted the writ and ordered the petitioner's release or prompt retrial. 4 The Court of Ap-

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peals reversed,5 and we granted certiorari to consider whether the trial that led to the petitioner's conviction was constitutionally valid.6 We have concluded that it was not.7

There were no eyewitnesses to the brutal crime which the petitioner was charged with perpetrating. A vital component of the case against him was a pair of men's underwear shorts covered with large, dark, reddish-brown stains—People's Exhibit 3 in the trial record. These shorts had been found by a Canton policeman in a place known as the Van Buren Flats three days after the murder. The Van Buren Flats were about a mile from the scene of the crime. It was the prosecution's theory that the petitioner had been wearing hese shorts when he committed the murder, and that he had afterwards removed and discarded them at the Van Buren Flats.

During the presentation of the prosecution's case, People's Exhibit 3 was variously described by witnesses in such terms as the 'bloody shorts' and 'a pair of jockey shorts stained with blood.' Early in the trial the victim's mother testified that her daughter 'had type 'A' positive blood.' Evidence was later introduced to show that the petitioner's blood 'was of group 'O'.'

Against this background the jury heard the testimony of a chemist for the State Bureau of Crime Identification. The prosecution established his qualifications as an expert, whose 'duties include blood identification, grouping and typing both dry and fresh stains,' and who had 'made approximately one thousand blood typing analyses

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while at the State Bureau.' His crucial testimony was as follows:

'I examined and tested 'People's Exhibit 3' to determine the nature of the staining material upon it. The result of the first test was that this material upon the shorts is blood. I made a second examination which disclosed that the blood is of human origin. I made a further examination which disclosed that the blood is of group 'A'.'

The petitioner, testifying in his own behalf, denied that he had ever owned or worn the shorts in evidence as People's Exhibit 3. He himself referred to the shorts as having 'dried blood on them.'

In argument to the jury the prosecutor made the most of People's Exhibit 3:

'Those shorts were found in the Van Buren Flats, with blood. What type blood? Not 'O' blood as the defendant has, but 'A' type 'A."

And later in his argument he said to the jury:

'And, if you will recall, it has never been contradicted the blood type of Janice May was blood type 'A' positive. Blood type 'A'. Blood type 'A' on these shorts. It wasn't 'O' type as the defendant has. It is 'A' type, what the little girl had.'

Such was the state of the evidence with respect to People's Exhibit 3 as the case went to the jury. And such was the state of the record as the judgment of conviction was reviewed by the Supreme Court of Illinois. The 'blood stained shorts' clearly played a vital part in the case for the prosecution. They were an important link in the chain of circumstantial evidence against the petitioner,8 and, in the context of the revolting crime with

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which he was charged, their gruesomely emotional impact upon the jury was incalculable.9

So matters stood with respect to People's Exhibit 3, until the present habeas corpus proceeding in the Federal District Court.10 In this proceeding the State was...

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429 practice notes
  • Giles v. State of Maryland, No. 27
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 20, 1967
    ...355 U.S. 28, 78 S.Ct. 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 9; Napue v. People of State of Illinois, 360 U.S. 264, 79 S.Ct. 1173, 3 L.Ed.2d 1217; Miller v. Pate, 386 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 785, 17 L.Ed.2d 690; compare United States ex rel. Almeida v. Baldi, 3 Cir., 195 F.2d 815, 33 A.L.R.2d 1407; United States ex rel. ......
  • Caldwell v. Mississippi, No. 83-6607
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 11, 1985
    ...the appellate process. There are circumstances where misrepresentations by prosecutors will violate due process, see Miller v. Pate, 386 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 785, 17 L.Ed.2d 690 (1967); Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), but here the reference to appellate rev......
  • Crowe v. Head, No. CIV. 1:02-CV-2265ODE.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • September 30, 2005
    ...from Nov. 18, 1989, pp. 1798-1800. Petitioner claims these comments are along the lines of those found unconstitutional in Miller v. Pate, 386 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 785, 17 L.Ed.2d 690 (1967), and Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264, 79 S.Ct. 1173, 3 L.Ed.2d 1217 (1959). Petitioner is A conviction o......
  • State v. Fair, No. 506A99.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • October 5, 2001
    ...give jury instructions on presumption of innocence after state's closing argument implied that all defendants are guilty); Miller v. Pate, 386 U.S. 1, 6-7, 87 S.Ct. 785, 787-88, 17 L.Ed.2d 690, 694 (1967) (holding that the defendant's due process rights were violated where prosecutor's argu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
429 cases
  • Giles v. State of Maryland, No. 27
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 20, 1967
    ...355 U.S. 28, 78 S.Ct. 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 9; Napue v. People of State of Illinois, 360 U.S. 264, 79 S.Ct. 1173, 3 L.Ed.2d 1217; Miller v. Pate, 386 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 785, 17 L.Ed.2d 690; compare United States ex rel. Almeida v. Baldi, 3 Cir., 195 F.2d 815, 33 A.L.R.2d 1407; United States ex rel. ......
  • Caldwell v. Mississippi, No. 83-6607
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 11, 1985
    ...the appellate process. There are circumstances where misrepresentations by prosecutors will violate due process, see Miller v. Pate, 386 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 785, 17 L.Ed.2d 690 (1967); Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963), but here the reference to appellate rev......
  • Crowe v. Head, No. CIV. 1:02-CV-2265ODE.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • September 30, 2005
    ...from Nov. 18, 1989, pp. 1798-1800. Petitioner claims these comments are along the lines of those found unconstitutional in Miller v. Pate, 386 U.S. 1, 87 S.Ct. 785, 17 L.Ed.2d 690 (1967), and Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264, 79 S.Ct. 1173, 3 L.Ed.2d 1217 (1959). Petitioner is A conviction o......
  • State v. Fair, No. 506A99.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • October 5, 2001
    ...give jury instructions on presumption of innocence after state's closing argument implied that all defendants are guilty); Miller v. Pate, 386 U.S. 1, 6-7, 87 S.Ct. 785, 787-88, 17 L.Ed.2d 690, 694 (1967) (holding that the defendant's due process rights were violated where prosecutor's argu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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