COLORADO v. CONNELLY
474 U.S. 1050 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

COLORADO v. CONNELLY , 474 U.S. 1050 (1986)

474 U.S. 1050

COLORADO v. Francis Barry CONNELLY.
No. 85-660 Supreme Court of the United States January 13, 1986

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Colorado. The motion of Duane Woodard, Attorney General of Colorado, et al., for leave to file a brief as amici curiae is granted. The motion of respondent for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. The petition for writ of certiorari is granted. In addition to the question presented by the petition for writ of certiorari, the parties are requested to brief and argue the following question: Did respondent's mental condition render his waiver of Miranda rights ineffective? The application for stay, presented to Justice WHITE and by him referred to the Court, is granted pending the issuance of the mandate of this Court.

Memorandum of Justice BRENNAN, with whom Justice STEVENS joins.

This grant of certiorari is yet another instance supporting the concern that the Court shows an unseemly eagerness to act as "the adjunct of the State and its prosecutors in facilitating efficient and expedient conviction. . . ." Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412, 463, 872 (1985) (BRENNAN, J., dissenting). Most often, this concern has been evoked by the Court's overly narrow interpretations of the Constitution's fundamental guarantees and the laws established to secure relief from violations of those guarantees. See ibid.; United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 928-929, 3430 (1984) (BRENNAN, J., dissenting). However, the Court's willingness to take special judicial action to assist the prosecutor has not been limited to its interpretations of substantive law. For example, in New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985), reargument was directed on a constitutional question not raised by either party because it provided a broader basis for upholding the State's action. Similarly, two Terms ago, Justice STEVENS noted the "quite striking" fact that during the preceding two-and-a-half years the Court had summarily reversed, without briefing or oral argument, 19 criminal cases-every one on the petition of the warden or the prosecutor and every one in his favor. Florida v.

Page 474 U.S. 1050 , 1051

Meyers, 466 U.S. 380, 385-387, and n. 3, 1855-1856, and n. 3 (1984) (STEVENS J., dissenting). Nothing has changed in the year and a half since that decision, for, although in the immediate wake of Justice STEVENS' dissent the Court did summarily reverse a few convictions on the petition of a criminal defendant, the trend to grant summary dispositions only in favor of the prosecutor has resumed and the record now stands at 26-4.1 No particularly informed understanding of statistics is required to appreciate that the likelihood of courts so consistently erring in favor of defendants is truly remote and that only a one-sided exercise of discretion can explain these results.

The Court's treatment of this case provides another clear example of why there is concern that the Court engages in injudicious efforts to assist prosecutors. Today, the Court takes the unprecedented step of rewriting a prosecutor's certiorari petition for him, enabling him to seek reversal on a ground he did not present himself. [Footnote 2]

Respondent approached a uniformed police officer and stated that "he had killed someone" and wanted to tell the officer about it. Before questioning respondent about the killing, the officer informed respondent of his Miranda rights. Respondent waived [474 U.S. 1050 , 1052]


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