Swenson v. Stidham
409 U.S. 224 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Swenson v. Stidham, 409 U.S. 224 (1972)

Swenson v. Stidham

No. 71-224

Argued October 11, 1972

Decided December 7, 1972

409 U.S. 224


During respondent's trial for murder, he challenged the voluntariness of his confession. A full evidentiary hearing was held outside the jury's presence, following which the trial court held the confession admissible. After affirmance of respondent's conviction on appeal, respondent sought state post-conviction relief. The Missouri Supreme Court reversed the denial of respondent's motion to vacate, and an evidentiary hearing was held by the St. Louis Circuit Court on the voluntariness issue. That court concluded that the trial judge himself had found the confession voluntary, and thus complied with Jackson v. Denno, 378 U. S. 368. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed, and held additionally that respondent had been given a new evidentiary hearing by the St. Louis court and that his confession had again been found to be voluntary. Respondent then sought federal habeas corpus. The District Court determined that Jackson v. Denno had been satisfied. The Court of Appeals, concluding that the trial judge, as permitted by then-prevailing state law, had not made the voluntariness finding himself, but had submitted the issue to the jury, reversed and held that respondent was entitled to a new hearing.

Held: The trial court's Jakson v. Denno error, if any, was remedied by the constitutionally adequate evidentiary hearing given respondent on the voluntariness issue by the St. Louis court, which the Missouri Supreme Court upheld after concluding from its independent examination of the record that the confession was voluntary. The Court of Appeals therefore erred in holding that respondent was entitled to still another voluntariness hearing in the state court. Pp. 409 U. S. 228-231.

443 F.2d 1327, reversed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 409 U. S. 225

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