Cupp v. Naughten,
Annotate this Case
414 U.S. 141 (1973)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Cupp v. Naughten, 414 U.S. 141 (1973)
Cupp v. Naughten
Argued October 16, 1973
Decided December 4, 1973
414 U.S. 141
At respondent's Oregon criminal trial, the trial judge charged, in accordance with a state statutory provision:
"Every witness is presumed to speak the truth. This presumption may be overcome by the manner in which the witness testifies, by the nature of his or her testimony, by evidence affecting his or her character, interest, or motives, by contradictory evidence or by a presumption."
Respondent was convicted and, following exhaustion of his state remedies, brought this federal habeas corpus action. The Court of Appeals, reversing the District Court, concluded that the "presumption of truthfulness" instruction placed the burden of proving innocence upon the defendant, and thus did not comport with due process.
Held: The instruction cannot be considered in isolation, and, when viewed, as it must be, in the context of the overall charge, in which the trial court twice gave explicit instructions affirming the presumption of innocence and declaring the State's obligation to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, did not so infect the entire trial that the resulting conviction violated the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the challenged instruction having neither shifted the burden of proof to the defendant nor negated the presumption of innocence accorded under state law. In re Winship, 397 U. S. 358, distinguished. Pp. 414 U. S. 144 150.
476 F.2d 845, reversed.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 414 U. S. 150.