Taylor v. Alabama
457 U.S. 687 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Taylor v. Alabama, 457 U.S. 687 (1982)

Taylor v. Alabama

No. 81-5152

Argued March 23, 1982

Decided June 23, 1982

457 U.S. 687

Syllabus

Petitioner was arrested on a grocery store robbery charge without a warrant or probable cause, based on an uncorroborated informant's tip, and was taken to the police station, where he was given Miranda warnings, fingerprinted, questioned, and placed in a lineup. After being told that his fingerprints matched those on grocery items handled by one of the participants in the robbery and after a short visit with his girlfriend, petitioner signed a written confession. Over petitioner's objection, the confession was admitted into evidence at his trial in an Alabama state court, and he was convicted. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, holding that the confession should not have been admitted, but was, in turn, reversed by the Alabama Supreme Court.

Held: Petitioner's confession should have been suppressed as the fruit of an illegal arrest. Brown v. Illinois,422 U. S. 590; Dunaway v. New York,442 U. S. 200. Pp. 457 U. S. 689-694.

(a) A confession obtained through custodial interrogation after an illegal arrest should be excluded unless intervening events break the causal connection between the arrest and the confession so that the confession is sufficiently an act of free will to purge the primary taint. Pp. 457 U. S. 689-690.

(b) Here, there was no meaningful intervening event. The illegality of the initial arrest was not cured by the facts that six hours elapsed between the arrest and confession; that the confession may have been "voluntary" for Fifth Amendment purposes because Miranda warnings were given; that petitioner was permitted a short visit with his girlfriend; or that the police did not physically abuse petitioner. Nor was the fact that an arrest warrant, based on a comparison of fingerprints, was filed after petitioner had been arrested and while he was being interrogated a significant intervening event, such warrant being irrelevant to whether the confession was the fruit of an illegal arrest. The initial fingerprints, which were themselves the fruit of the illegal arrest and were used to extract the confession, cannot be deemed sufficient "attenuation" to break the connection between the illegal arrest and the confession merely because they formed the basis for the arrest warrant. Pp. 457 U. S. 690-693.

399 So.2d 881, reversed and remanded.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. O'CONNOR, J., filed a dissenting

Page 457 U. S. 688

opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, post, p. 457 U. S. 694.

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