Payne v. Arkansas
Annotate this Case
356 U.S. 560 (1958)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Payne v. Arkansas, 356 U.S. 560 (1958)
Payne v. Arkansas
Argued March 3, 1958
Decided May 19, 1958
356 U.S. 560
Petitioner, a mentally dull 19-year-old Negro with a fifth-grade education, was convicted in a state court of first degree murder and sentenced to death. At his trial, there was admitted in evidence, over his objection, a confession shown by undisputed evidence to have been obtained in the following circumstances: he was arrested without a warrant, and never taken before a magistrate or advised of his right to remain silent or to have counsel, as required by state law. After being held incommunicado for three days without counsel, advisor, or friend, and with very little food, he confessed after being told by the Chief of Police that "there would be 30 or 40 people there in a few minutes that wanted to get him," and that, if he would tell the truth, the Chief of Police probably would keep them from coming in.
Held: Petitioner was denied due process of law contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment; the judgment of the State Supreme Court affirming the conviction is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion. Pp. 356 U. S. 561-569.
(a) It is obvious from the totality of the course of conduct shown by undisputed evidence that the confession was coerced, and did not constitute an "expression of free choice." Pp. 356 U. S. 562-567.
(b) Even though there may have been sufficient evidence, apart from the coerced confession, to support a conviction, the admission in evidence of the coerced confession over petitioner's objection vitiates the judgment because it violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 356 U. S. 567-568.
226 Ark. 910, 225 S.W.2d 312, reversed, and cause remanded.