Petitioner was arrested on suspicion and held for five days
without arraignment, without the aid of counsel or friends, and
without being advised of his constitutional rights. Meanwhile, he
was interrogated by relays of police officers, sometimes during
both the day and the night, until he confessed to murder. It was
admitted that arraignment was purposely delayed until a confession
could be obtained. At his trial in a state court, the confession
was admitted in evidence over his objection, and he was
the use at the trial of a confession thus
obtained violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment, and the conviction is reversed. Watts v. Indiana,
p. 338 U. S. 49
338 U. S.
358 Pa. 350, 58 A.2d 61, reversed.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed petitioner's
conviction for murder, notwithstanding his claim that his
confession was procured under circumstances rendering its admission
in evidence a denial of due process of law. 358 Pa. 350, 58 A.2d
61. This Court granted certiorari. 334 U.S. 858. Reversed,
p. 338 U. S.
Page 338 U. S. 63
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, announced the judgment of the Court and
an opinion in which MR. JUSTICE MURPHY and MR. JUSTICE RUTLEDGE
Our ruling in Watts v. Indiana, ante,
p. 338 U. S. 49
decisive of the present case. It is also a capital case in which
the petitioner claims that his conviction for first-degree murder
resulted from the use of incriminatory statements obtained under
circumstances which should have barred their admission. The Supreme
Court of Pennsylvania, in affirming the conviction, rejected this
claim. 358 Pa. 350, 58 A.2d 61. We brought the case here to measure
against the requirements of due process the circumstances giving
rise to the claim. 334 U.S. 858. Again we take conflicts of
testimony as they were resolved by the State's adjudication.
For six months, the Philadelphia police had been investigating
the felonious death of one Frank Andres. At 10:30 in the morning of
June 3, 1946, they arrested Aaron Turner, the petitioner, on
suspicion of the homicide, and took him to the office of the
Homicide Division at the City Hall Building. The officers making
the arrest had no warrant, and did not tell the petitioner why he
was being arrested. These officers began to question the petitioner
as soon as they reached the City Hall police station. One of them
examined the petitioner for three hours on that afternoon, and
again that night from eight to eleven o'clock. From time to time,
other officers joined in the interrogation. Petitioners
persistently denied any knowledge of the murder.
The next morning, June 4, the petitioner was booked on the
police records as being held for questioning. Later that day, he
was questioned for about four hours more. On June 5, he was
interrogated for another four hours, and, on the 6th, for day and
night sessions totaling six hours. The questioning was conducted
sometimes by one officer and at other times by several working
together; it appears,
Page 338 U. S. 64
in fact, that whenever one of the police officers interested in
the investigation had any free time, he would have the petitioner
brought from his cell for questioning.
On June 7, the day when a confession was finally obtained,
questioning began in the afternoon and continued for three hours.
Later that day, the officers who had been present during the
afternoon returned with others to resume the examination of
petitioner. Despite the fact that he was falsely told that other
suspects had "opened up" on him, petitioner repeatedly denied
guilt. But finally, at about eleven o'clock, petitioner stated that
he had killed the person for whose murder he was later arraigned.
At nine o'clock the following morning, the same police officers
started to reduce his statement to writing, interrupted this
process to bring him for a preliminary hearing before a magistrate
sitting in the same building, and returned to the transcript of his
statement, which was completed by about noon.
The petitioner was not permitted to see friends or relatives
during the entire period of custody; he was not informed of his
right to remain silent until after he had been under the pressure
of a long process of interrogation and had actually yielded to it.
With commendable candor, the district attorney admitted that a
hearing was withheld until interrogation had produced confession.
The delay of five days thus accounted for was in violation of a
Pennsylvania statute which requires that arrested persons be given
a prompt preliminary hearing.
At the trial, petitioner objected to the introduction of his
statement on the ground that it was the product of police conduct
of a nature condemned by our previous cases. The trial judge
overruled petitioner's objection to the use of the confession, but
told the jury to disregard it if they found it to have been
involuntary. He also told them that it was common sense
"not to send them [suspects] to the magistrate before you have
Page 338 U. S. 65
information to hold an alleged culprit for the Grand Jury."
He refused to charge that, in considering the voluntariness of
the confession, the prolonged interrogation should be
The jury returned a verdict of guilty and recommended the death
penalty. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed the conviction
in an opinion stressing the probable guilt of the petitioner and
assuming that the alternatives before it were either to approve the
conduct of the police or to turn the petitioner "loose upon
[society] after he has confessed his guilt." 358 Pa. at 367, 58
A.2d at 69.
Putting this case beside the considerations set forth in our
opinion in Watts v. Indiana, ante,
p. 338 U. S. 49
leaves open no other possible conclusion than that petitioner's
confession was obtained under circumstances which made its use at
the trial a denial of due process. We must accordingly reverse the
judgment and remand the case.
There remains, however, an additional complication. The police
arrested two other men, Johnson and Lofton, who were suspected as
co-principals with Turner in the Andres murder. These two also made
confessions involving Turner, as well as themselves. Turner signed
their confessions, and they were introduced against him at the
trial. Since a new trial is called for, issues raised by these
confessions call for notice.
Clearly the same considerations that bar admission of the
confession by Turner made over his own name extend to his
contemporaneous adoption of the Johnson and Lofton confessions. But
these statements may be introduced not as his own confessions, but
as confessions by co-principals. In that event, Pennsylvania may,
as a matter of local evidentiary law, hold that the hearsay rule
requires the exclusion of statements by co-principals not on trial.
Assuming, however, that, as a matter of local law, these statements
are admissible, there would then arise the question whether, under
Page 338 U. S. 66
Amendment, a coerced statement may be excluded on objection of
one not coerced into making it. At this stage, however, this is a
wholly hypothetical question which, as a constitutional issue, we
ought not hypothetically to answer. We could not answer it, in any
event, without knowledge that Johnson's and Lofton's confessions
were also coerced, and the facts necessary to that determination
are not before us.
Such other contentions as the use of statements made at a
magistrate's hearing when the accused had no counsel may be
disposed of by Pennsylvania cases, or for other reasons fail to
arise on retrial of the case. See, e.g., Commonwealth v.
206 Pa. 277, 55 A. 977, cited with approval in
Commonwealth v. Westwood,
324 Pa. 289, 188 A. 304.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK concurs in the judgment on the authority of
Chambers v. Florida, 309 U. S. 227
Ashcraft v. Tennessee, 322 U. S. 143
On the record before us and in view of the consideration given
to the evidence by the state courts and the conclusion reached, THE
CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE REED and MR. JUSTICE BURTON believe that
the judgment should be affirmed.
p. 338 U. S. 57
for opinion of MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, concurring in the result in No.
610, Watts v. Indiana,
p. 338 U. S. 49
dissenting in this case and in No. 76, Harris v. South
p. 338 U. S. 68
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, concurring.
The undisputed facts surrounding the arrest and confession of
the petitioner in this case are as follows:
Petitioner was arrested June 3, 1946, on suspicion of committing
a homicide about six months after the crime
Page 338 U. S. 67
had been committed. At the time of his arrest, he was not taken
before a committing magistrate, as required by Pennsylvania law. He
was held five days before being lawfully committed to custody.
During this confinement, he did not have the aid of family, friends
or counsel. He was not informed of his constitutional rights at the
outset of his detention.
During this confinement, petitioner was subject to continual
interrogations by a number of police officers, who questioned him
individually and in small groups. The day of his arrest, he was
questioned about three hours in the afternoon and again in the
evening. The next two days, he was questioned three to four hours
in the afternoon. The next day, the questioning was intensified,
and he was again subjected to both day and evening sessions. On the
7th of June, the day he finally confessed, the interrogations were
intensive, once again being held afternoon and evening. Petitioner
denied his guilt, even after being informed that other suspects had
issued statements incriminating him. About eleven o'clock in the
evening, after three hours of interrogation, petitioner finally
indicated that he wished to make a statement. This confession was
set down on paper the next day, and petitioner signed it after he
had been committed by a magistrate.
These interrogations had been conducted by at least seven
different officers. They were conducted in petitioner's cell, in a
small office, and in a room which had a stand-up screen where
suspects were put for identification. It was admitted that the
reason petitioner was not brought before a magistrate was because
he had not given the answers which the police wanted and which they
believed he could give.
The case is but another vivid illustration of the use of illegal
detentions to exact confessions. It is governed by Watts v.
state of Indiana, ante,
p. 338 U. S. 49
decided this day.