White v. State of Texas

Decision Date27 May 1940
Docket NumberNo. 87,87
Citation84 L.Ed. 1342,60 S.Ct. 1032,310 U.S. 530
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. F.S.K. Whittaker and Carter Wesley, both of Houston, Tex., for petitioner.

Messrs. Lloyd W. Davidson and William J. Fanning, both of Austin, Tex., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner was convicted of rape and sentenced to death in the District Court of Montgomery County, Texas. The State's appellate criminal court of last resort affirmed and denied rehearing.1 We declined to grant certiorari to review the State court's action. February 29, 1940, petitioner sought rehearing of his petition for certiorari, alleging that his conviction and sentence resulted from proceedings in which the State had utilized an alleged confession in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. March 25, 1940, we granted certiorari, and reversed the judgment of the state court 309 U.S. 631, 60 S.Ct. 706, 84 L.Ed. 989, upon authority of Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227, 60 S.Ct. 472, 84 L.Ed. 716, and Canty v. Alabama, 309 U.S. 629, 60 S.Ct. 612, 84 L.Ed. 988. The case is before us now on the State's petition for rehearing.2

From the first offer of the alleged confession in evidence at the trial, petitioner has challenged the State's right to utilize it consistently with rights guaranteed him by the Federal Constitution.3 In affirming the conviction and sentence of death, the court below necessarily determined that use of the confession did not constitute a denial of that due process which the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees.

The State suggests that there is evidence that petitioner denied ever having made or signed the confession which purported to be signed by his mark. Therefore, it insists that petitioner is barred from urging that the prosecution's use of the confession could have deprived him of due process at his trial. But regardless of petitioner's testimony on this question, the State insisted and offered testimony to establish that the confession was signed by him and upon this evidence the confession was submitted to the jury for the purpose of obtaining his conviction. Since, therefore, the confession was presented by the State to the jury as that of petitioner, we must determine whether the record shows that, if signed at all, the confession was obtained and used in such manner that petitioner's trial fell short of that procedural due process guaranteed by the Constitution.

Petitioner is an illiterate farmhand who was engaged, at the time of his arrest, upon a plantation about ten miles from Livingston, Texas. On the day following the crime with which he has been charged, he was called from the field in which he was picking cotton and was taken to the house of the brother-in-law of the prosecutrix, the victim of the crime, where fifteen or sixteen negroes of the vicinity were at the time in custody without warrants or the filing of charges. Taken to the county court house, and thence to the Polk County jail, petitioner was kept there six or seven days. According to his testimony, armed Texas Rangers on several successive nights took him handcuffed from the jail 'up in the woods somewhere', whipped him, asked him each time about a confession and warned him not to speak to any one about the nightly trips tot he woods. During the period of his arrest up to and including the signing of the alleged confession, petitioner had no lawyer, no charges were filed against him and he was out of touch with friends or relatives.

There were denials that petitioner was ever physically mistreated or abused. But the Rangers and a local peace officer, identified by petitioner as the officers who took him on the night trips to the woods and there whipped him, did not specifically deny that he was taken out of jail, at night, and interrogated in the woods. This local peace officer wasn't sure 'how many times' the prisoner was removed from jail, and one Ranger re-stated his testimony given at the first trial that he 'took him out so many times' the exact number could not be recalled. The prisoner was taken out of jail, driven 'out on the road' and then 'out...

To continue reading

Request your trial
100 cases
  • US v. Pinto
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maine
    • May 29, 1987
    ...the defendant claimed that it did not incriminate him. This is precisely what this Court subsequently held in White v. Texas, 310 U.S. 530 60 S.Ct. 1032, 84 L.Ed. 1342 (1940). In any event, the Bram case was a federal case where we exercised supervisory power rather than merely enforced the......
  • Miller v. Fenton
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • September 28, 1984
    ...right, else federal law could be frustrated by distorted fact finding." 7 The Supreme Court's opinions in White v. Texas, 310 U.S. 530, 60 S.Ct. 1032, 84 L.Ed. 1342 (1940), and Ward v. Texas, 316 U.S. 547, 62 S.Ct. 1139, 86 L.Ed. 1663 (1942), are exemplars of this point. State officers in b......
  • Hysler v. State of Florida
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 2, 1942
    ...L.Ed. 859. 4 See cases cited in footnote 1, supra, and Canty v. Alabama, 309 U.S. 629, 60 S.Ct. 612, 84 L.Ed. 988; White v. Texas, 310 U.S. 530, 60 S.Ct. 1032, 84 L.Ed. 1342; Lomax v. Texas, 313 U.S. 544, 61 S.Ct. 956, 85 L.Ed. 1511; Vernon v. Alabama, 313 U.S. 547, 61 S.Ct. 1092, 85 L.Ed. ......
  • Oregon v. Elstad
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 4, 1985
    ...547, 62 S.Ct. 1139, 86 L.Ed. 1663 (1942); Vernon v. Alabama, 313 U.S. 547, 61 S.Ct. 1092, 85 L.Ed. 1513 (1941); White v. Texas, 310 U.S. 530, 60 S.Ct. 1032, 84 L.Ed. 1342 (1940); Canty v. Alabama, 309 U.S. 629, 60 S.Ct. 612, 84 L.Ed. 988 (1940); Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227, 60 S.Ct. 4......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Lego v. Twomey: the improbable relationship between an obscure Supreme Court decision and wrongful convictions.
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Vol. 47 No. 3, June 2010
    • June 22, 2010
    ...("Fourteenth Amendment prohibits use of coerced confessions."); Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227, 228 (1940) (same); White v. Texas, 310 U.S. 530, 532 (1940); Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 279, 286 (1936) (use of coerced confession violates due (204.) See Foster v. California, 394 U.S. 44......
  • Relearning Lessons of History: Miranda and Counter-terrorism
    • United States
    • Louisiana Law Review No. 71-4, July 2011
    • July 1, 2011
    ...IN LAW ENFORCEMENT 4 (1931). 35. See Ashcraft v. Tennessee, 322 U.S. 143 (1944); Ward v. Texas, 316 U.S. 547 (1942) ; White v. Texas, 310 U.S. 530 (1940); Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278 (1936). 2011] RELEARNING LESSONS OF HISTORY 1155 safety exception does not satisfactorily respond to ......
  • The Supreme Court as Protector of Civil Rights: Criminal Justice
    • United States
    • ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, The No. 275-1, May 1951
    • May 1, 1951
    ...The State may not (1940) ; White v. Texas, 309 U. S. 631 (1940), permit an accused to be hurried to convic- on application for rehearing, 310 U. S. 530 tion under mob domination-where the (1940) ; Lomax v. Texas, 313 U. S. 544 whole proceeding is but (1941) ; Vernon v. Alabama, 313 U. S. 54......

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