Withrow v. Williams

Decision Date21 April 1993
Docket NumberNo. 91-1030,91-1030
Citation113 S.Ct. 1745,123 L.Ed.2d 407,507 U.S. 680
PartiesPamela WITHROW, Petitioner v. Robert Allen WILLIAMS, Jr
CourtU.S. Supreme Court
Syllabus *

After a police sergeant threatened to "lock [him] up" during a station house interrogation about a double murder, respondent Williams made inculpatory statements. He was then advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, waived those rights, and made more inculpatory statements. The Michigan trial court declined to suppress his statements on the ground that he had been given timely Miranda warnings, and he was convicted of first-degree murder and related crimes. Williams subsequently commenced this habeas action pro se, alleging a Miranda violation as his principal ground for relief. The District Court granted relief, finding that all statements made between the sergeant's incarceration threat and Williams' receipt of Miranda warnings should have been suppressed. Without conducting an evidentiary hearing or entertaining argument, the court also ruled that the statements Williams made after receiving the Miranda warnings should have been suppressed as involuntary under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court of Appeals agreed on both points and affirmed, summarily rejecting the argument that the rule in Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067—that when a State has given a full and fair chance to litigate a Fourth Amendment claim, federal habeas review is not available to a state prisoner alleging that his conviction rests on evidence obtained through an unconstitutional search or seizure—should apply to bar habeas review of Williams' Miranda claim.

Held:

1. Stone's restriction on the exercise of federal habeas jurisdiction does not extend to a state prisoner's claim that his conviction rests on statements obtained in violation of the Miranda safeguards. The Stone rule was not jurisdictional in nature, but was based on prudential concerns counseling against applying the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule of Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081, on collateral review. Miranda differs from Mapp with respect to such concerns, and Stone consequently does not apply. In contrast to Mapp, Miranda safeguards a fundamental trial right by protecting a defendant's Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Moreover, Miranda facilitates the correct ascertainment of guilt by guarding against the use of unreliable statements at trial. Finally, and most importantly, eliminating review of Miranda claims would not significantly benefit the federal courts in their exercise of habeas jurisdiction, or advance the cause of federalism in any substantial way. The burdens placed on busy federal courts would not be lightened, since it is reasonable to suppose that virtually every barred Miranda claim would simply be recast as a due process claim that the particular conviction rested on an involuntary confession. Furthermore, it is not reasonable to expect that, after 27 years of Miranda, the overturning of state convictions on the basis of that case will occur frequently enough to be a substantial cost of review or to raise federal-state tensions to an appreciable degree. Pp. ____.

2. The District Court erred in considering the involuntariness of the statements Williams made after receiving the Miranda warnings. The habeas petition raised no independent due process claim, and the record is devoid of any indication that petitioner consented under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(b) to the determination of such a claim. Moreover, petitioner was manifestly prejudiced by the court's failure to afford her an opportunity to present evidence bearing on that claim's resolution. Pp. ____.

944 F.2d 284 (CA6 1991), affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

SOUTER, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court with respect to Part III, and the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and IV, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. O'CONNOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., joined. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which THOMAS, J., joined.

Jeffrey Caminsky, Detroit, MI, for petitioner.

John G. Roberts, Washington, DC, for U.S. as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner.

Seth P. Waxman, Washington, DC, for respondent.

Justice SOUTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

In Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976), we held that when a State has given a full and fair chance to litigate a Fourth Amendment claim, federal habeas review is not available to a state prisoner alleging that his conviction rests on evidence obtained through an unconstitutional search or seizure. Today we hold that Stone's restriction on the exercise of federal habeas jurisdiction does not extend to a state prisoner's claim that his conviction rests on statements obtained in violation of the safeguards mandated by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).

I

Police officers in Romulus, Michigan learned that respondent, Robert Allen Williams, Jr., might have information about a double murder committed on April 6, 1985. On April 10, two officers called at Williams's house and asked him to the police station for questioning. Williams agreed to go. The officers searched Williams, but did not handcuff him, and they all drove to the station in an unmarked car. One officer, Sergeant David Early, later testified that Williams was not under arrest at this time, although a contemporaneous police report indicates that the officers arrested Williams at his residence. App. 12a-13a, 24a-26a.

At the station, the officers questioned Williams about his knowledge of the crime. Although he first denied any involvement, he soon began to implicate himself, and the officers continued their questioning, assuring Williams that their only concern was the identity of the "shooter." After consulting each other, the officers decided not to advise Williams of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, supra. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 48a. When Williams persisted in denying involvement, Sergeant Early reproved him:

"You know everything that went down. You just don't want to talk about it. What it's gonna amount to is you can talk about it now and give us the truth and we're gonna check it out and see if it fits or else we're simply gonna charge you and lock you up and you can just tell it to a defense attorney and let him try and prove differently." Ibid.

The reproof apparently worked, for Williams then admitted he had furnished the murder weapon to the killer, who had called Williams after the crime and told him where he had discarded the weapon and other incriminating items. Williams maintained that he had not been present at the crime scene.

Only at this point, some 40 minutes after they began questioning him, did the officers advise Williams of his Miranda rights. Williams waived those rights and during subsequent questioning made several more inculpatory statements. Despite his prior denial, Williams admitted that he had driven the murderer to and from the scene of the crime, had witnessed the murders, and had helped the murderer dispose of incriminating evidence. The officers interrogated Williams again on April 11 and April 12, and, on April 12, the State formally charged him with murder.

Before trial, Williams moved to suppress his responses to the interrogations, and the trial court suppressed the statements of April 11 and April 12 as the products of improper delay in arraignment under Michigan law. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 90a-91a. The court declined to suppress the statements of April 10, however, ruling that the police had given Williams a timely warning of his Miranda rights. Id., at 90a. A bench trial led to Williams's conviction on two counts each of first-degree murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and resulted in two concurrent life sentences. The Court of Appeals of Michigan affirmed the trial court's ruling on the April 10 statements, People v. Williams, 171 Mich.App. 234, 429 N.W.2d 649 (1988), and the Supreme Court of Michigan denied leave to appeal, 432 Mich. 913, 440 N.W.2d 416 (1989). We denied the ensuing petition for writ of certiorari. Williams v. Michigan, 493 U.S. 956, 110 S.Ct. 369, 107 L.Ed.2d 355 (1989).

Williams then began this action pro se by petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus in the District Court, alleging a violation of his Miranda rights as the principal ground for relief. Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in No. 90CV-70256, p. 5 (ED Mich.). The District Court granted relief, finding that the police had placed Williams in custody for Miranda purposes when Sergeant Early had threatened to "lock [him] up," and that the trial court should accordingly have excluded all statements Williams had made between that point and his receipt of the Miranda warnings. App. to Pet. for Cert. 49a-52a. The court also concluded, though neither Williams nor petitioner had addressed the issue, that Williams's statements after receiving the Miranda warnings were involuntary under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and thus likewise subject to suppression. App. to Pet. for Cert. 52a-71a. The court found that the totality of circumstances, including repeated promises of lenient treatment if he told the truth, had overborne Williams's will.1

The Court of Appeals affirmed, 944 F.2d 284 (CA6 1991), holding the District Court correct in determining the police had subjected Williams to custodial interrogation before giving him the requisite Miranda advice, and in finding the statements made after receiving the Miranda warnings involuntary. Id., at 289-290. The Court of Appeals...

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