Haynes v. Washington
373 U.S. 503 (1963)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Haynes v. Washington, 373 U.S. 503 (1963)

Haynes v. Washington

No. 147

Argued February 26-27, 1963

Decided May 27, 1963

373 U.S. 503



In a Washington State Court, petitioner was tried on a charge of robbery, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. Over his timely objection, there was admitted in evidence a written confession obtained after he had been held incommunicado for 16 hours and had been told that he could not call his wife until he had signed it. In accordance with local practice, the question as to the voluntariness of the confession was left for determination by the jury, and it brought in a general verdict of guilty.

Held: On the record in this case, the confession was not voluntary, and its admission in evidence violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 373 U. S. 504-520.

(a) A review of the entire record reveals that petitioner's account of the circumstances in which his written confession was obtained and signed was uncontradicted in its essential elements. Pp. 373 U. S. 507-513.

(b) The uncontroverted portions of the record disclose that petitioner's written confession was obtained in, and was the result of, an atmosphere of substantial coercion and inducement created by statements and actions of state authorities, which made its admission in evidence violative of due process. Pp. 373 U. S. 513-515.

(c) This Court cannot be precluded by the verdict of a jury from determining whether the circumstances under which a confession was obtained were such that its admission in evidence amounts to a denial of due process. Pp. 373 U. S. 515-518.

58 Wash.2d 716, 364 P.2d 935, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

Page 373 U. S. 504

MR. JUSTICE GOLDBERG delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioner, Raymond L. Haynes, was tried in a Superior Court of the State of Washington on a charge of robbery, found guilty by a jury, and sentenced to imprisonment "for a term of not more than 20 years." The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, with four of nine judges dissenting. 58 Wash.2d 716, 364 P.2d 935. Certiorari was granted, 370 U.S. 902, to consider whether the admission of the petitioner's written and signed confession into evidence against him at trial constituted a denial of due process of law.

Haynes contends that the confession was involuntary, and thus constitutionally inadmissible, because induced by police threats and promises. He testified at trial that, during the approximately 16-hour period between the time of his arrest and the making and signing of the written confession, he several times asked police to allow him to call an attorney and to call his wife. He said that such requests were uniformly refused, and that he was repeatedly told that he would not be allowed to call unless and until he "cooperated" with police and gave them a written and signed confession admitting participation in the robbery. He was not permitted to phone his wife, or, for that matter, anyone, either on the night of his arrest or the next day. The police persisted in their refusals to allow him contact with the outside world, he said, even after he signed one written confession and after a preliminary hearing before a magistrate, late on the day following his arrest. According to the petitioner, he was, in fact, held incommunicado by the police until some five or seven days after his arrest. [Footnote 1]

Page 373 U. S. 505

The State asserts that the petitioner's version of events is contradicted, that the confession was freely given, and that, in any event, the question of voluntariness was conclusively resolved against the petitioner by the verdict of the jury at trial. We consider each of these contentions in turn.


The petitioner was charged with robbing a gasoline service station in the City of Spokane, Washington, at about 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 19, 1957. He was arrested by Spokane police in the vicinity of the station within approximately one-half hour after the crime. [Footnote 2] Though he orally admitted the robbery to officers while en route to the police station, he was, on arrival there, not charged with the crime, but instead booked for "investigation," or, as it is locally called, placed on the "small book." Concededly, prisoners held on the "small book" are permitted by police neither to make phone calls nor to have any visitors. [Footnote 3]

Shortly after arriving at the station at about 10 p.m., the petitioner was questioned for about one-half hour by Lieutenant Wakeley of the Spokane police, during which period he again orally admitted the crime. He was then placed in a line-up and identified by witnesses as one of the robbers. Apparently nothing else was done that night.

On the following morning, beginning at approximately 9:30 a.m., the petitioner was again questioned for about an hour and a half, this time by Detectives Peck and

Page 373 U. S. 506

Cockburn. He once more orally admitted the robbery, and a written confession was transcribed. Shortly thereafter, he was taken to the office of the deputy prosecutor, where still another statement was taken and transcribed. Though Haynes refused to sign this second confession, he then did sign the earlier statement given to Detectives Peck and Cockburn. [Footnote 4] Later that same afternoon, he was taken before a magistrate for a preliminary hearing; this was at about 4 p.m. on December 20, the day after his arrest.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Haynes was transferred to the county jail, and, on either the following Tuesday or Thursday, was returned to the deputy prosecutor's office. He was again asked to sign the second statement which he had given there some four to six days earlier, but again refused to do so.

The written confession taken from Haynes by Detectives Peck and Cockburn on the morning after his arrest and signed by Haynes on the same day in the deputy prosecutor's office was introduced into evidence against the petitioner over proper and timely objection by his counsel that such use would violate due process of law. Under the Washington procedure then in effect, [Footnote 5] voluntariness of the confession was treated as a question of fact

Page 373 U. S. 507

for ultimate determination by the jury. In overruling the petitioner's objection to use of the confession, the trial judge, however, made an apparently preliminary determination that it was voluntary, and "conditionally" admissible. See 58 Wash.2d at 719-720, 364 P.2d at 937. The evidence going to voluntariness was heard before the jury, and the issue submitted to it. The jury returned a general verdict of guilty, and was not required to, and did not, indicate its view with respect to the voluntariness of the confession.


The State first contends that the petitioner's version of the circumstances surrounding the making and signing of his written confession is evidentially contradicted, and thus should be rejected by this Court. We have carefully reviewed the entire record, however, and find that Haynes' account is uncontradicted in its essential elements.

Haynes testified that, on the evening of his arrest, he made several specific requests of the police that he be permitted to call an attorney and to call his wife. Each such request, he said, was refused. He stated, however, that he was told he might make a call if he confessed:

"They kept wanting me to own up to robbing a Richfield Service Station, and I asked Mr. [Detective] Pike several times if I could call a lawyer, and he said, if I cooperated and gave him a statement . . . , that I would be allowed to call, to make a phone call. . . ."

On cross-examination, Lieutenant Wakeley, the officer who interrogated the petitioner on the night of his arrest, first said that Haynes did not ask him for permission to call his wife, but merely inquired whether his wife would be notified of his arrest. Lieutenant Wakeley said that

Page 373 U. S. 508

he told the petitioner that his wife would be notified. [Footnote 6] Defense counsel, however, pursued the point and, only a moment later, Wakeley testified that Haynes "may have" asked permission to call his wife himself; Wakeley said he didn't "remember exactly whether he asked, or whether we wouldn't notify his wife." Wakeley then testified that he simply didn't "remember" whether Haynes asked to call his wife so that she might secure a lawyer for him; in addition, the lieutenant admitted that the petitioner might have asked to call his wife after the interrogation was completed. Detective Pike, also testifying at trial, said simply that he had not talked to Haynes on the evening of the arrest.

If this were the only evidence of police coercion and inducement in the record, we would face the problem of determining whether, in view of the testimony of Lieutenant Wakeley and Detective Pike, the petitioner's own testimony would be sufficient, on review by this Court, to establish the existence of impermissible police conduct barring use of the written confession ultimately obtained. We need not pursue such an inquiry, however, since the record contains other probative, convincing, and uncontradicted evidence.

The written confession introduced at trial was dictated and transcribed while Haynes was being questioned by Detectives Peck and Cockburn on the morning of December 20, the day after the robbery. Haynes testified:

"Q. . . . [S]tate whether or not the officers at that time asked you to give them a statement."

"A. Yes. "

Page 373 U. S. 509

"Q. And what was your answer to that?"

"A. I wanted to call my wife."

"Q. And were you allowed to call your wife?"

"A. No."

"Q. . . . This was on Friday?"

"A. Friday."

"Q. December 20th?"

"A. Yes."

"Q. And was anything else said with respect to making a telephone call?"

"A. Mr. Pike [sic] and the other officer both told me that, when I had made a statement and cooperated with them, that they would see to it that, as soon as I got booked, I could call my wife."

"Q. Well, that was the night before you were told that, wasn't it?"

"A. I was told that the next day too, several times."

"Q. Who were the officers that were with you?"

"A. Oh, not Mr. Pike. Mr. Cockburn and Mr. Peck, I believe."

"Q. In any event, Mr. Haynes, did you soon after that give them a statement?"

"A. Well, not readily."

"Q. Did you give them a statement?"

"A. Yes."

The transcribed statement itself discloses that, early in the interrogation, Haynes asked whether he might at least talk to the prosecutor before proceeding further. He was told: "We just want to get this down for our records, and then we will go to the prosecutor's office and he will ask the same questions that I am."

Whatever contradiction of Haynes' account of his interrogation on the night of his arrest might be found in the testimony of Lieutenant Wakeley and Detective Pike, his explicit description of the circumstances surrounding his questioning and the taking by Detectives Peck and Cockburn of the challenged confession on the following day remains testimonially undisputed. Though he took the stand at trial, Detective Cockburn did not deny that he or Detective Peck had told the petitioner that he might

Page 373 U. S. 510

call his wife only if he "cooperated" and gave the police a statement. Cockburn said merely that he could not "remember" whether Haynes had asked to call his wife. He conceded that the petitioner "could have" made such a request. No legal alchemy can transmute such wholly equivocal testimony into a denial or refutation of the petitioner's specific recitation of events. Detective Peck did not testify, and no other evidence was presented to contradict the petitioner's testimony, either as part of the prosecution's case in chief or, even more importantly, by way of rebuttal subsequent to the petitioner's testimony. We cannot but attribute significance to the failure of the State, after listening to the petitioner's direct and explicit testimony, to attempt to contradict that crucial evidence; this testimonial void is the more meaningful in light of the availability and willing cooperation of the policemen who, if honestly able to do so, could have readily denied the defendant's claims. Similarly, no evidence was offered to contradict in any way the petitioner's testimony that, when first taken to the deputy prosecutor's office to sign the statement he had given to Detectives Peck and Cockburn, he again requested permission to call his wife, and was again refused. [Footnote 7]

Though the police were in possession of evidence more than adequate to justify his being charged without delay, it is uncontroverted that Haynes was not taken before a magistrate and granted a preliminary hearing until he had acceded to demands that he give and sign the written statement. Nor is there any indication in the record that, prior to signing the written confession, or even thereafter,

Page 373 U. S. 511

Haynes was advised by authorities of his right to remain silent, warned that his answers might be used against him, or told of his rights respecting consultation with an attorney.

In addition, there is no contradiction of Haynes' testimony that, even after he submitted and supplied the written confession used at trial, the police nonetheless continued the incommunicado detention while persisting in efforts to secure still another signature on another statement. [Footnote 8] Upon being returned to the deputy prosecutor's office during the week following his arrest, and while still being held incommunicado, the petitioner was again asked to sign the second statement which he had given there several days earlier. He refused to do so, he said, because, as he then told the deputy prosecutor,

"all the promises of all the officers I had talked to had not been fulfilled, and I had not been able to call my wife, and I would sign nothing under any conditions until I was allowed to call my wife to see about legal counsel."

The State offered no evidence to rebut this testimony. [Footnote 9] Similarly uncontradicted is Haynes' testimony that it was not until

Page 373 U. S. 512

during or after this second interview with the prosecutor on the Tuesday or Thursday -- Haynes could not be quite certain -- but, in any event, some five or seven days after his arrest, that he was first allowed to call his wife.

The contested written confession itself contains the following exchange:

"Q. Have we made you any threats or promises?"

"A. No."

"Q. Has [sic] any police officers made you any promises or threats?"

"A. No -- except that the Lieutenant promised me that, as soon as I was booked, that I could call my wife."

"Q. You are being held for investigation -- you haven't been booked yet. When you are, you will be able to phone your wife."

The State argues that the quoted answers to the first two of these questions conclusively negative existence of coercion or inducement on the part of the police. The statement bears no such reading, however. The questions, on their face, disclose that the petitioner was told that "booking" was a prerequisite to calling his wife, and "booking" must mean booking on a charge of robbery. Since the police already had enough evidence to warrant charging the petitioner with the robbery -- they had the petitioner's prior oral admissions, the circumstances surrounding his arrest, and his identification by witnesses -- the only fair inference to be drawn under all the circumstances is that he would not be booked on the robbery charge until the police had secured the additional evidence they desired, the signed statement for which they were pressing. The quoted portions of the signed confession thus support the petitioner's version of events; under any view, they offer no viable or reliable contradiction.

Even were it otherwise, there would be substantial doubt as to the probative effect to be accorded recitations

Page 373 U. S. 513

in the challenged confession that it was not involuntarily induced. Cf. Haley v. Ohio,332 U. S. 596, 332 U. S. 601 (opinion of MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS). It would be anomalous indeed if such a statement, contained within the very document asserted to have been obtained by use of impermissible coercive pressures, was itself enough to create an evidentiary conflict precluding this Court's effective review of the constitutional issue. Common sense dictates the conclusion that, if the authorities were successful in compelling the totally incriminating confession of guilt, the very issue for determination, they would have little, if any, trouble securing the self-contained concession of voluntariness. Certainly we cannot accord any conclusive import to such an admission, particularly when, as here, it is immediately followed by recitations supporting the petitioner's version of events.


The uncontroverted portions of the record thus disclose that the petitioner's written confession was obtained in an atmosphere of substantial coercion and inducement created by statements and actions of state authorities. We have only recently held again that a confession obtained by police through the use of threats is violative of due process, and that "the question in each case is whether the defendant's will was overborne at the time he confessed," Lynumn v. Illinois,372 U. S. 528, 372 U. S. 534.

"In short, the true test of admissibility is that the confession is made freely, voluntarily, and without compulsion or inducement of any sort."

Wilson v. United States,162 U. S. 613, 162 U. S. 623. See also Bram v. United States,168 U. S. 532. And, of course, whether the confession was obtained by coercion or improper inducement can be determined only by an examination of all of the attendant circumstances. See, e.g., 347 U. S. S. 514

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