409 U.S. 995 (1972)

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BRYANT v. NORTH CAROLINA. , 409 U.S. 995 (1972)

409 U.S. 995

Willie Horace BRYANT
No. 71-6743.

Supreme Court of the United States

November 6, 1972

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of North carolina.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN concurs, dissenting.

I would grant certiorari in this case.

Petitioner was convicted of rape and sentenced to life imprisonment. At trial petitioner took the stand and admitted the fact of intercourse, but argued that the alleged victim had consented. Upon cross-examination by the State, petitioner was asked if he had talked with

Page 409 U.S. 995 , 996

two police officers making certain statements while in custody and admitting his use of force. Petitioner replied that he had talked with the officers but denied making the statements. In rebuttal, the State called the two police officers to the stand. Over petitioner's objection they testified that petitioner had admitted to them just after his arrest that he had used force to subdue the victim. Prior to this testimony the trial judge instructed the jury that the testimony was being offered solely for the purpose of impeaching the defendant, and not as substantive evidence. There was no allegation that prior to the time the alleged statement was made to the officers, petitioner had been advised of his rights under Miranda v. United States, 384 U.S. 436. Nor was there ever any determination as to the voluntariness of petitioner's alleged statements.*

A defendant's constitutional right to the fullest opportunity to meet the accusations against him and to be free to deny all the elements of the case against him (Walder v. United States, 347 U.S. 62), must include the right to remain silent unless he chooses to speak in the unfettered exercise of his own will. The allowance of tainted statements to impeach the accused who takes the stand fetters that choice. The instant case is just another example of the way Harris v. New York, 401 [409 U.S. 995 , 997]

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