447 U.S. 912 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

BRIGGS v. CONNECTICUT , 447 U.S. 912 (1980)

447 U.S. 912

Linwood H. BRIGGS
No. 79-6383

Supreme Court of the United States

June 9, 1980

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Connecticut.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.

The Due Process Clause forbids the use for impeachment purposes of evidence that a defendant remained silent after receiving the Miranda warnings at the time of his arrest. Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610 (1976). At petitioner's criminal trial, the prosecutor repeatedly brought before the jury the fact that petitioner had not furnished police officers with his alibi at the time of his arrest. Respondent concedes, and the Supreme Court of Connecticut agreed, that such use of petitioner's post-arrest silence violated petitioner's constitutional rights. Nevertheless, the court sustained the conviction, over Justice Bogdanski's dissent, on the ground that the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. I share Justice Bogdanski's " unreasonable" belief that the violation of petitioner's rights was not constitutionally harmless. A finding of harmless error on this record, in my view, can be nothing other than a means of avoiding the requirements of the Constitution in order to sustain the conviction of a defendant the court believed was factually guilty.

Page 447 U.S. 912 , 913

Petitioner's defense was that he was in the company of his wife and was nowhere near the scene of the alleged crimes at the time they were committed. Petitioner's wife testified to that effect, and petitioner's testimony corroborated hers. On cross-examination, the prosecutor repeatedly forced petitioner to admit that he had not given his story to the police after receiving Miranda warnings. The cross-examination which the Connecticut Supreme Court held to be harmless beyond a reasonable doubt was as follows:

"Q. Did you ever recall telling the police officer that you had gone to court in Stamford on June 8th [the date of the alleged offense]?

"A. Yes.

* * * * *

"Q. Did you ever tell the police officer on June 15th [the date petitioner was arrested] that you were home from 6:45 to 8:55 in the morning?

    "[Defense counsel's objection was overruled.]

"A. No, I never told them nothing. Not anything.

"Q. Did you tell them that you were wearing red pants, red T- shirt and blue jacket, white, red and blue sneakers, at 6:15 on June-

"A. I did not tell the police officer nothing.

"Q. Did you ever tell them that you went to court with your wife and Kareen?

"A. Pardon me?

"Q. Did you ever tell them that you went to court with your wife and Kareen-the boy?

"A. Well, I started-I almost started a conversation but I cut it.

"Q. Did you ever tell the police officer what time you arrived at the court in Stamford?

"A. I did not tell the police officer nothing." 179 Conn. 328, 334, n. 1, 426 A.2d 298, 302, n. 1 (1979). [447 U.S. 912 , 914]

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