United States v. Gouveia
Annotate this Case
467 U.S. 180 (1984)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Gouveia, 467 U.S. 180 (1984)
United States v. Gouveia
Argued March 20, 1984
Decided May 29, 1984
467 U.S. 180
Four of the respondents, who were all inmates in a federal prison, were placed in administrative detention in individual cells during the investigation of the 1978 murder of a fellow inmate. They remained in administrative detention without appointed counsel for approximately 19 months before their indictment on federal criminal charges and their arraignment in Federal District Court, when counsel was appointed for them. The District Court denied their motion to dismiss the indictment on the asserted ground that their administrative confinement without appointed counsel violated their Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and they were ultimately convicted of murder. The other two respondents were placed in administrative detention without appointed counsel for approximately eight months during the investigation of a 1979 murder of another inmate. Counsel was appointed for them and they were released from administrative detention when they were arraigned on a federal indictment. They were also ultimately convicted of murder over their contention that the preindictment administrative confinement violated their Sixth Amendment right to counsel. On consolidated appeals, the Court of Appeals reversed. Although recognizing that a plurality of this Court had concluded in Kirby v. Illinois, 406 U. S. 682, that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches only when formal judicial proceedings are initiated against an individual by way of indictment, information, arraignment, or preliminary hearing, the Court of Appeals noted that Kirby was not a prison case, and concluded that an indigent inmate who is the subject of a felony investigation and who is isolated in administrative detention for more than 90 days must be afforded counsel after 90 days or else be released back into the prison population.
Held: Respondents were not constitutionally entitled to the appointment of counsel while they were in administrative segregation and before any adversary judicial proceedings had been initiated against them. Pp. 467 U. S. 187-192.
(a) The right to counsel attaches only at or after the initiation of adversary judicial proceedings against the defendant. Cf. Kirby v. Illinois, supra, at 406 U. S. 688-689. This interpretation of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is consistent not only with the literal language of the
Amendment, which requires the existence of both a "criminal prosecutio[n]" and an "accused," but also with the purposes that the right to counsel serves, including assuring aid at trial and at "critical" pretrial proceedings when the accused is confronted with the intricacies of criminal law or with the expert advocacy of the public prosecutor, or both. Pp. 467 U. S. 187-189.
(b) The Court of Appeals' analogy to Sixth Amendment speedy trial cases -- which hold that that Sixth Amendment right may attach as early as the time of arrest -- is inapt. The speedy trial right and the right to counsel protect different interests, and any analogy between an arrest and an inmate's administrative detention pending investigation is not relevant to a proper determination of when the right to counsel attaches. Pp. 467 U. S. 189-190.
(c) The Court of Appeals' holding also confuses the purpose of the right to counsel with purposes that are served by the Fifth Amendment due process guarantee and the statutes of limitations applicable to the particular crime being investigated. The court was concerned with affording protection against the possibility that the Government might delay the initiation of formal charges while it developed its case against the isolated and unaided inmate, during which time physical evidence might deteriorate, witnesses' memories might dim, and alibi witnesses might be transferred to other facilities. Such concerns, while legitimate ones, do not implicate the right to counsel. Providing a defendant with a preindictment private investigator is not a purpose of the right to counsel. Pp. 467 U. S. 191-192.
704 F.2d 1116, reversed and remanded.
REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 467 U. S. 193. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 467 U. S. 199.
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