People v. Hamilton

Decision Date11 April 1960
Docket NumberNo. 67,67
Citation359 Mich. 410,102 N.W.2d 738
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Maurice HAMILTON, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

Albert Summer and Ernest E. Ostrow, Detroit, for defendant and appellant.

Paul L. Adams, Atty. Gen., Samuel J. Torina, Sol. Gen., Lansing, Samuel H. Olsen, Pros. Atty., Samuel Brezner, Chief Appellate Lawyer, Detroit, for the State.

Before the Entire Bench.

BLACK, Justice (for reversal).

'The aim of the requirement of due process is not to exclude presumptively false evidence, but to prevent fundamental unfairness in the use of evidence whether true or false.' Lisenba v. People of State of California, 314 U.S. 219, 236, 62 S.Ct. 280, 290, 86 L.Ed. 166, quoted in Blackburn v. State of Alabama, 361 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct. 274, 4 L.Ed.2d 242, 248.

I hold that admission in evidence of defendant Hamilton's confession deprived him of process due by our Constitution and criminal code 1, to say nothing of the process that is due by supreme law.

Maurice Hamilton and Victoria Hirmiz were charged in the first degree with having murdered Victoria's husband, Aziz Hirmiz. They were tried together in Detroit Recorder's Court. The jury found defendant Hamilton guilty of murder as charged and defendant Hirmiz 'not guilty by reason of insanity.' Defendant Hamilton was sentenced to life imprisonment 'without favorable recommendation.' He appeals to this Court upon leave granted.

Hamilton was born in and is a citizen of Iraq. He lived there until September of 1955, when he came to Detroit on authority of a student visa for the purpose of 'learning to be a mechanic.' He could not speak English 2 and had learned but few English words in the short time between arrival in Detroit and indictment there. Aged 19 at the time, he had never previously been 'involved with the law.'

Mr. and Mrs. Hirmiz had been acquainted with Hamilton in Iraq. Mr. Hirmiz had been a neighbor, there, of Hamilton's family. Mrs. Hirmiz had been a friend of Hamilton's mother in Bagdad.

The homicide occurred during the night of February 9-10, 1956, in the Detroit apartment of Mr. and Mrs. Hirmiz. Mr. Hirmiz was found knifed to death. The police, called during the morning of February 10, found his body in a bedroom of the Hirmiz apartment. They also found Mrs. Hirmiz in an adjacent room with her hands tied behind her and her feet tied to a table. She insisted that 'a colored man' had entered the apartment and, after having killed her husband, that he tied her up in the manner described. He story changed later.

Shortly after arrival of the police Hamilton and Mrs. Hirmiz' brother, Azzawi Haisha, came to the apartment. The two defendants thereupon were arrested and taken to police headquarters for interrogation. There they were detained, incommunicado excepting as presently indicated, until each confessed. Mrs. Hirmiz' confession was obtained by the police Saturday morning, February 11. Implicating Hamilton as wielder of the knife, she said he was to be paid--or had been paid--by her for the homicide and that she had instructed him to tie her up for the purpose of supporting her first story. The police thereupon employed her confession to obtain Hamilton's confession. He did not yield until Monday. His confession was recorded about ten in the evening of that day, February 13.

One Jamil Jalaba, friend of Mr. and Mrs. Hirmiz and of Hamilton, communicated the content of Mrs. Hirmiz' confession to Hamilton. It is apparent from the record that Jalaba, doubtless in good faith, 3 aided the police in bringing about Hamilton's confession by talking repeatedly with Hamilton alone and in the presence of officers Areeda and Clinton, on one occasion for two hours. (The situation in such regard is much like that shown in Spano v. People of State of New York, 360 U.S. 315, 79 S.Ct. 1202, 3 L.Ed.2d 1265, save only that there are incomprehensible voids in the record of what Jalaba told Hamilton). According to officer Clinton (talking with Hamilton through Jalaba at conclusion of Hamilton's confession), 'He [Hamilton] was firmly convinced that no matter what happened to him that the worst that could happen would be that he would be or he would face deportation.' Much of this testimonial uncertainty is due, of course, to the necessary and steady employment of interpreters and the manifest difficulty of recording testimony properly, the Chaldean and Arabic dialects of important witnesses being different.

From this point forward the record discloses much dispute and uncertainty. If Hamilton is believed, he was mistreated scandalously by the officers between the Friday morning arrest and the time of the Monday confession. The officers testified to the contrary, and at detailed length. 4 We need not, however, evaluate these typically disputed versions of the interrogation period, the following facts having been clearly established.

From the time of arrest February 10, and continuously until his confession was obtained and recorded February 13, defendant Hamilton was interrogated periodically by police officers--without pretense of effort on their part to comply with quoted section 13 of the criminal code--for the purpose of obtaining from him a confession of guilt. Even when Mrs. Hirmiz' confession was obtained the police did not comply with the requirements of said sections 13 and 26 of the code. Hamilton was not arraigned, or taken before a magistrate, until Tuesday morning, February 14. During the 50-odd hour period between the two confessions an attorney sought to see Hamilton professionally. The attorney was refused access, not once but several times, having been sent first to one officer and then to others on various floors of the headquarters building. 5 He finally gave up. The only excuse given by the State for such refusal of access is one of suggestion that the attorney was soliciting business; that the officers had a right to find out, as a condition of access as sought, the nature of the attorney's retainer and identity of the person who paid him and arranged for his services, and that the attorney was unable to satisfy the officers that he did represent Hamilton or had been engaged properly in Hamilton's behalf. And the principal excuse for failure to comply with requirements of the two quoted sections of the code is that 'he could not have been arraigned Saturday afternoon, or Sunday, or on Monday, February 13, a holiday.' No testimony supports this last representation. Neither does the law.

Thus we face a recurrent question of due process of law; whether in the presented circumstances Hamilton's confession of guilt--of first degree murder--was shown by the prosecution as having been voluntary and so receivable in evidence. I hold it was not, and refer particularly to said sections 13 and 26 in conjunction with the reasoning of Mallory v. United States, 354 U.S. 449, 77 S.C.t. 1356, 1 L.Ed.2d 1479 and Upshaw v. United States, 335 U.S. 410, 69 S.Ct. 170, 93 L.Ed. 100. 6 That reasoning should be inosculated with quoted sections 13 and 26 quite as firmly as if written therein.

Hamilton's continued detention was unwarranted and so unlawful under these sections. It was unlawful because the delay was unnecessary. and unlawful because its manifest purpose was that of 'sweating' a confession after the officers were fully enabled to complain and arraign according to the requirements of said section 26. His unjustifiably continued detention, coupled as it was with undisputed proof that counsel engaged for him was, during such detention, refused even limited conference, amounted to a denial of due process. Said sections 13 and 26, and Rule 5(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, 18 U.S.C.A. 7 , are quite alike and equally mandatory. Each requires that the person arrested be taken 'without unnecessary delay' before a judicial officer for the purposes of complaint and proceedings subsequent thereto.

This does not mean that an arrested person cannot be 'booked' and questioned for such time of 'brief delay' as presented circumstances fairly require in order to determine the immediate question of release or complaint (Mallory, supra, 354 U.S. at pages 454, [359 Mich. 417] 455, 77 S.Ct. at page 1359 and Cicenia v. LaGay, 357 U.S. 504, 509, 510, 78 S.Ct. 1297, 2 L.Ed.2d 1523). It does mean that an unnecessary and so unlawful delay of compliance with either of said sections 13 and 26, when done for prolonged interrogatory purposes and without proven justification of the delay, 8 renders involuntary and so inadmissible whatever confessional admissions the detained person may have made while so unlawfully detained.

Here the delay (from and after, at least, the time of Mrs. Hirmiz' confession) was 'unnecessary' as a matter of law. It admits of no defense on account of the claimed intervention of the half and whole holidays of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Hamilton should have been taken before a magistrate no later than Saturday afternoon, immediately following the confession of his co-defendant. And it will not do to say or infer that the magisterial courts of Wayne county were closed and remained so until the following Tuesday. Magistrates of Michigan are, for the purposes of said sections 13 and 26, on legal duty at all times; Sunday, holidays or no. See Linnen v. Banfield, 114 Mich. 93, 97, 72 N.W. 1, wherein pertinent statutes yet in effect (How.Stat. § 1591; C.L.1948, § 435.101 and How.Stat. § 7250; C.L.1948, § 604.12) were construed as keeping our magisterial courts continuously open for such purposes. There is, finally, no proof here tending to show that not one of the many magistrates of Wayne county was available during such intervening days. It is not even shown that an unsuccessful effort was made during the time between the respective confessions to invoke the indicated services of one or more of them.

This construction of our rules of criminal procedure...

To continue reading

Request your trial
79 cases
  • People v. Conte
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • March 1, 1984
    ...Michigan constitutional guarantee of due process. Const.1908, art. 2, Sec. 16. See Const.1963, art. 1, Sec. 17. In People v. Hamilton, 359 Mich. 410, 102 N.W.2d 738 (1960), this Court clarified any ambiguity present in Cavanaugh by making it abundantly clear that the Due Process Clause in t......
  • People v. Bladel
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • April 1, 1984
    ...or complaint. Mallory v. United States, 354 U.S. 449, 454-455, 77 S.Ct. 1356, 1359-1360, 1 L.Ed.2d 1479 (1957); People v. Hamilton, 359 Mich. 410, 416-417, 102 N.W.2d 738 (1960). Even where an unnecessary delay has occurred, admissions or confessions obtained during this period will not be ......
  • People v. Wallach
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • October 6, 1981
    ...a day so that the fact that it was a weekend does not excuse the police failure to have defendant arraigned. People v. Hamilton, 359 Mich. 410, 417, 102 N.W.2d 738 (1960); People v. Besonen, 4 Mich.App. 131, 137, 144 N.W.2d 653 (1966). In Hamilton, supra, 359 Mich. 416-417, 102 N.W.2d 738, ......
  • People v. White, 7
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • September 6, 1974
    ...delay has been employed as a tool to extract a statement has an exclusionary rule been imposed under these sections. People v. Hamilton, 359 Mich. 410, 102 N.W.2d 738 (1960); People v. Harper, 365 Mich. 494, 113 N.W.2d 808 (1962); People v. Farmer, 380 Mich. 198, 156 N.W.2d 504 In the prese......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT