Beck v. Washington
369 U.S. 541 (1962)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Beck v. Washington, 369 U.S. 541 (1962)

Beck v. Washington

No. 40

Argued November 14, 1961

Decided May 14, 1962

369 U.S. 541

Syllabus

Petitioner contended that his conviction in a Washington State court of grand larceny from the union of which he was president was invalid under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, primarily because of voluminous and intensive adverse publicity circulated by news media in the vicinity where he was indicted and tried. Specifically, he claimed that the grand jury which indicted him was biased, that it was unfairly impaneled and instructed, and that the prosecutor acted improperly before it.

Held: on the record in this case, petitioner has failed to sustain the burden of showing that his indictment, trial and conviction violated the Due Process or Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 369 U. S. 542-558.

1. Petitioner has failed to show that the grand jury proceedings which resulted in his indictment violated the Due Process or Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 369 U. S. 545-555.

(a) Petitioner has failed to show that the grand jury which indicted him was unfairly impaneled or instructed or was biased or prejudiced against him. Pp. 369 U. S. 545-549.

(b) Petitioner has failed to show that he was denied equal protection of the laws on the ground that he is a member of a class (the union of which he was president) that was not accorded equal treatment in the grand jury proceedings. P. 369 U. S. 549.

(c) Petitioner's contention that he was denied equal protection of the laws by a Washington statute which permits persons in custody or on bail to challenge grand jurors but denies the same right to persons who are not in custody or on bail when investigated by grand juries is not properly before this Court. Pp. 369 U. S. 549-554.

(d) On the record in this case, it cannot be said that the State has failed to afford petitioner the procedural safeguards it affords others to insure an unbiased grand jury, or that a failure to afford such procedures would deny petitioner equal protection of the laws. Pp. 369 U. S. 554-555.

(e) It cannot be said that the manner in which a witness before the grand jury was interrogated violated petitioner's constitutional rights. P. 369 U. S. 555.

Page 369 U. S. 542

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