Stroble v. California
343 U.S. 181 (1952)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Stroble v. California, 343 U.S. 181 (1952)

Stroble v. California

No. 373

Argued March 6, 1952

Decided April 7, 1952

343 U.S. 181

Syllabus

Petitioner's conviction of first degree murder was affirmed by the Supreme Court of California. Petitioner here challenged the validity of his conviction under the Fourteenth Amendment, on the grounds (1) that it was based in part on a coerced confession; (2) that a fair trial was impossible because of inflammatory newspaper reports inspired by the District Attorney, and (3) that he was, in effect, deprived of counsel in the course of his sanity hearing. He urged that each of these grounds independently was a denial of due process, and that the combination of them with other circumstances denied due process.

Held: the judgment of conviction is affirmed. Pp. 343 U. S. 183-198.

1. If the confession which petitioner made in the District Attorney's office shortly after his arrest was in fact involuntary, the conviction cannot stand, even though the evidence apart from that confession might hare been sufficient to sustain the jury's verdict. P. 343 U. S. 190.

2. When the question on review of a state court conviction is whether there has been a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by the introduction of an involuntary confession, this Court must make an independent determination on the undisputed facts. P. 343 U. S. 190.

3. In the light of all the circumstances of this case, this Court cannot say that petitioner's confession in the District Attorney's office was the result of coercion, either physical or psychological. Pp. 343 U. S. 184-189, 343 U. S. 190-191.

4. Petitioner's contention that the newspaper accounts of his "arrest and confession were so inflammatory as to make a fair trial in the Los Angeles area impossible -- even though a period of six weeks intervened between the day of his arrest and confession and the beginning of his trial -- is not sustained by the record in this case. Pp. 343 U. S. 191-195.

5. Petitioner's contention that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel when he waived trial by jury on the issue

Page 343 U. S. 182

of insanity is not substantiated, since it appears that he had the full assistance of competent counsel on that question. Pp. 343 U. S. 195-196.

6. The combination of the above ground with the alleged unwarranted delay in arraignment and the refusal to permit counsel to consult petitioner during the making of the confession, do not amount to such unfairness as to deny due process. Pp. 343 U. S. 196-198.

7. Upon review by this Court of a state court conviction challenged as wanting in due process, illegal acts of state officials prior to trial are relevant only as they bear upon the defendant's contention that he was deprived of a fair trial, either through the use of a coerced confession or otherwise. P. 343 U. S. 197.

8. Upon the facts of this case, this Court cannot hold that the illegal conduct of the law enforcement officers in not taking petitioner promptly before a committing magistrate coerced the confession which he made in the District Attorney's office or in any other way deprived him of a fair and impartial trial. P. 343 U. S. 197.

9. Upon the record in this case, there is no showing of prejudice resulting from the refusal of the prosecutors to admit counsel during their interrogation of petitioner. Pp. 343 U. S. 197-198.

10. The burden of showing essential unfairness in a state court trial is upon him who claims such injustice and seeks to have the result set aside, and must be sustained not as a matter of speculation, but as a demonstrable reality. P. 343 U. S. 198.

36 Cal.2d 615, 226 P.2d 330, affirmed.

Petitioner's conviction of first degree murder, challenged as violating the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, was affirmed by the Supreme Court of California. 36 Cal.2d 615, 226 P.2d 330. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 811. Affirmed, p. 343 U. S. 198.

Page 343 U. S. 183

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