Stovall v. Denno, No. 254

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRENNAN
Citation18 L.Ed.2d 1199,87 S.Ct. 1967,388 U.S. 293
PartiesTheodore STOVALL, Petitioner, v. Wilfred DENNO, Warden
Docket NumberNo. 254
Decision Date12 June 1967

388 U.S. 293
87 S.Ct. 1967
18 L.Ed.2d 1199
Theodore STOVALL, Petitioner,

v.

Wilfred DENNO, Warden.

No. 254.
Argued Feb. 16, 1967.
Decided June 12, 1967.

Page 294

Leon B. Polsky, New York City, for petitioner.

William Cahn, Mineola, N.Y., for respondent.

H. Richard Uviller, New York City, for New York State District Attorney's Ass'n, as amicus curiae.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This federal habeas corpus proceeding attacks collaterally a state criminal conviction for the same alleged constitutional errors in the admission of allegedly tainted identification evidence that were before us on direct review of the convictions involved in 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. This case therefore provides a vehicle for deciding the extent to which the rules announced in Wade and Gilbert—requiring the exclusion of identification evidence which is tainted by exhibiting the accused to identifying witnesses before trial in the absence of his counsel—are to be applied retroactively. See Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 85 S.Ct. 1731, 14 L.Ed.2d 601; Tehan v. United States ex rel. Shott, 382 U.S. 406, 86 S.Ct. 459, 15 L.Ed.2d 453; Johnson v. State of New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719, 86 S.Ct. 1772, 16 L.Ed.2d 882.1 A further question is whether in any event, on the facts of the particular con-

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frontation involved in this case, petitioner was denied due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Cf. Davis v. State of North Carolina, 384 U.S. 737, 86 S.Ct. 1761, 16 L.Ed.2d 895.

Dr. Paul Behrendt was stabbed to death in the kitchen of his home in Garden City, Long Island, about midnight August 23, 1961. Dr. Behrendt's wife, also a physician, had followed her husband to the kitchen and jumped at the assailant. He knocked her to the floor and stabbed her 11 times. The police found a shirt on the kitchen floor and keys in a pocket which they traced to petitioner. They arrested him on the afternoon of August 24. An arraignment was promptly held but was postponed until petitioner could retain counsel.

Mrs. Behrendt was hospitalized for major surgery to save her life. The police, without affording petitioner time to retain counsel, arranged with her surgeon to permit them to bring petitioner to her hospital room about noon of August 25, the day after the surgery. Petitioner was handcuffed to one of five police officers who, with two members of the staff of the District Attorney, brought him to the hospital room. Petitioner was the only Negro in the room. Mrs. Behrendt identified him from her hospital bed after being asked by an officer whether he 'was the man' and after petitioner repeated at the direction of an officer a 'few words for voice identification.' None of the witnesses could recall the words that were used. Mrs. Behrendt and the officers testified at the trial to her identification of the petitioner in the hospital room, and she also made an in-court identification of petitioner in the courtroom.

Petitioner was convicted and sentenced to death. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed without opinion. People v. Stovall, 13 N.Y.2d 1094, 246 N.Y.S.2d 410, 196 N.E.2d 65. Petitioner pro se sought federal habeas corpus in the District Court for the Southern District of New York. He claimed that among other constitutional rights allegedly denied him

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at his trial, the admission of Mrs. Behrendt's identification testimony violated his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fur teenth Amendments because he had been compelled to submit to the hospital room confrontation without the help of counsel and under circumstances which unfairly focused the witness' attention on him as the man believed by the police to be the guilty person. The District Court dismissed the petition after hearing argument on an unrelated claim of an alleged invalid search and seizure. On appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit a panel of that court initially reversed the dismissal after reaching the issue of the admissibility of Mrs. Behrendt's identification evidence and holding it inadmissible on the ground that the hospital room identification violated petitioner's constitutional right to the assistance of counsel. The Court of Appeals thereafter heard the case en banc, vacated the panel decision, and affirmed the District Court. 355 F.2d 731. We granted certiorari, 384 U.S. 1000, 86 S.Ct. 1983, 16 L.Ed.2d 1014, and set the case for argument with Wade and Gilbert. We hold that Wade and Gilbert affect only those cases and all future cases which involve confrontations for identification purposes conducted in the absence of counsel after this date. The rulings of Wade and Gilbert are therefore inapplicable in the present case. We think also that on the facts of this case petitioner was not deprived of due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is, therefore, affirmed.

I.

Our recent discussions of the retroactivity of the constitutional rules of criminal procedure make unnecessary any detailed treatment of that question here. Linkletter v. Walker, supra; Tehan v. United States ex rel. Shott, supra; Johnson v. State of New Jersey, supra. 'These cases establish the principle that in criminal litigation concerning constitutional

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claims, 'the Court may in the interest of justice make the rule prospective * * * where the exigencies of the situation require such an application' * * *.' Johnson, supra, 384 U.S., at 726—727, 86 S.Ct., at 1777. The criteria guiding resolution of the question implicates (a) the purpose to be served by the new standards, (b) the extent of the reliance by law enforcement authorities on the old standards, and (c) the effect on the administration of justice of a retroactive application of the new standards. '(T)he retroactivity or nonretroactivity of a rule is not automatically determined by the provision of the Constitution on which the dictate is based. Each constitutional rule of criminal procedure has its own distinct functions, its own background of precedent, and its own impact on the administration of justice, and the way in which these factors combine must inevitably vary with the dictate involved.' Johnson, supra, at 728, 86 S.Ct. at 1778.

Wade and Gilbert fashion exclusionary rules to deter law enforcement authorities from exhibiting an accused to witnesses before trial for identification purposes without notice to and in the absence of counsel. A conviction which rests on a mistaken identification is a gross miscarriage of justice. The Wade and Gilbert rules are aimed at minimizing that possibility by preventing the unfairness at the pretrial confrontation that experience has proved can occur and assuring meaningful examination of the identification witness' testimony at trial. Does it follow that the rules should be applied retroactively? We do not think so.

It is true that the right to the assistance of counsel has been applied retroactively at stages of the prosecution where denial of the right must almost invariably deny a fair trial, for example, at the trial itself, Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 83 S.Ct. 792, 9 L.Ed.2d 799, or at some forms of arraignment, Hamilton v. State of Alabama, 368 U.S. 52, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114, or on appeal, Douglas v. People of State of California, 372 U.S. 353, 83 S.Ct. 814, 9 L.Ed.2d 811. 'The basic pur-

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pose of a trial is the determination of truth, and it is self-evident that to deny a lawyer's help through the technical intricacies of a criminal trial or to deny a full opportunity to appeal a conviction because the accused is poor is to impede that purpose and to infect a criminal proceeding with the clear danger of convicting the innocent.' Tehan v. United States ex rel. Shott, supra, 382 U.S., at 416, 86 S.Ct., at 465. We have also retroactively applied rules of criminal procedure fashioned to correct serious flaws in the fact-finding process at trial. See for example Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 84 S.Ct. 1774, 12 L.Ed.2d 908. Although the Wade and Gilbert rules also are aimed at avoiding unfairness at the trial by enhancing the reliability of the fact-finding process in the area of identification evidence, 'the question whether a constitutional rule of criminal procedure does or does not enhance the reliability of the fact-finding process at trial is necessarily a matter of degree.' Johnson v. State of New Jersey, supra, 384 U.S., at 729, 86 S.Ct., at 1778. The extent to which a condemned practice infects the integrity of the truth-determining process at trial is a 'question of probabilities.' Ibid. Such probabilities must in turn be weighed against the prior justified reliance upon the old standards and the impact of retroactivity upon the administration of justice.

We have outlined in Wade the dangers and unfairness inherent in confrontations for identification. The possibility of unfairness at that point is great, both because of the manner in which confrontations are frequently conducted, and because of the likelihood that the accused will often be precluded from reconstructing what occurred and thereby from obtaining a full hearing on the identification issue at trial. The presence of...

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5247 practice notes
  • Butler v. Curry, No. 07-56204.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 9, 2008
    ...v. United States, 394 U.S. 244, 258-59, 89 S.Ct. 1030, 22 L.Ed.2d 248 (1969) (Harlan, J., dissenting) (arguing that Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199 (1967), which dictated the result in Desist, was wrongly decided and that new constitutional decisions must be a......
  • Corchado v. Rabideau, No. 04-CV-0039(VEB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • September 19, 2008
    ...singly to persons for the purpose of identification, and not as part of a lineup, has been widely condemned." Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 302, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199 (1967) (quoted in Foster v. California, 394 U.S. at 442-43, 89 S.Ct. 1127), prompt, on-the-scene show-ups Pa......
  • Edwards v. Vannoy, No. 19-5807
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 17, 2021
    ...the Court of that time did not often distinguish in its retroactivity rulings between direct and collateral review. See Stovall v. Denno, 388 U. S. 293, 300-301 (1967). For that reason, the majority must fall back on the argument that "Brown and Ivan V. were pre-Teague decisions" ......
  • United States ex rel. Allison v. State of New Jersey, No. 17394.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • October 29, 1969
    ...at stages of the prosecution where denial of the right must almost invariably deny a fair trial * * *." Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 297, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 1970, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199 (1967). This retroactive application of the right to counsel cases has included the right to representation ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5246 cases
  • Butler v. Curry, No. 07-56204.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 9, 2008
    ...v. United States, 394 U.S. 244, 258-59, 89 S.Ct. 1030, 22 L.Ed.2d 248 (1969) (Harlan, J., dissenting) (arguing that Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199 (1967), which dictated the result in Desist, was wrongly decided and that new constitutional decisions must be a......
  • Corchado v. Rabideau, No. 04-CV-0039(VEB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • September 19, 2008
    ...singly to persons for the purpose of identification, and not as part of a lineup, has been widely condemned." Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 302, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199 (1967) (quoted in Foster v. California, 394 U.S. at 442-43, 89 S.Ct. 1127), prompt, on-the-scene show-ups Pa......
  • Edwards v. Vannoy, No. 19-5807
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 17, 2021
    ...the Court of that time did not often distinguish in its retroactivity rulings between direct and collateral review. See Stovall v. Denno, 388 U. S. 293, 300-301 (1967). For that reason, the majority must fall back on the argument that "Brown and Ivan V. were pre-Teague decisions" ......
  • United States ex rel. Allison v. State of New Jersey, No. 17394.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • October 29, 1969
    ...at stages of the prosecution where denial of the right must almost invariably deny a fair trial * * *." Stovall v. Denno, 388 U.S. 293, 297, 87 S.Ct. 1967, 1970, 18 L.Ed.2d 1199 (1967). This retroactive application of the right to counsel cases has included the right to representation ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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