Stewart v. United States
366 U.S. 1 (1961)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stewart v. United States, 366 U.S. 1 (1961)

Stewart v. United States

No. 143

Argued February 21, 1961

Decided April 24, 1961

366 U.S. 1

Syllabus

Petitioner was tried three times in a federal court for murder. At the first two trials, he did not testify in his own defense, but he did so at the third trial, at which the main issue was whether or not he was insane when the offense was committed. On cross-examination, the prosecutor alluded to the two earlier trials and asked, "This is the first time you have gone on the stand, isn't it, Willie?" Petitioner's counsel moved for a mistrial on the ground that it was prejudicial to inform the jury of petitioner's failure to take the stand in his previous trials. The motion was denied, and petitioner was convicted.

Held: the question was prejudicial; the error was not harmless; a mistrial should have been granted; and the judgment affirming the conviction is reversed. Pp. 366 U. S. 2-10.

107 U.S.App.D.C. 159, 275 F.2d 617, reversed.

Page 366 U. S. 2

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