SWEAT v. ARKANSAS
Annotate this Case
469 U.S. 1172 (1985)
U.S. Supreme Court
SWEAT v. ARKANSAS , 469 U.S. 1172 (1985)
469 U.S. 1172
Russell SWEAT and Richard "Bud" Sweat
Supreme Court of the United States
January 14, 1985
On petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals of Arkansas.
The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.
Justice BRENNAN, with whom Justice MARSHALL joins, dissenting.
After the State of Arkansas had initiated formal criminal proceedings against the petitioners Russell and Richard ("Bud") Sweat, a state undercover agent contacted the Sweats and, in a series of telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings, deliberately elicited incriminating statements from them. Because the Sweats' right to counsel had accrued when formal criminal proceedings were begun, the prosecution's introduction at trial of these subsequent statements clearly violated the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. See, e.g., United States v. Henry, 447
U.S. 264 (1980); Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387 (1977); Massiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201 (1964). The Arkansas Court of Appeals held, however, that the Sweats' right to counsel had not yet attached at the time the undercover agent elicited their statements on the ground that, since they had not "been arrested or deprived of [their] freedom in any significant way," they were not entitled to notification of their rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). 5 Ark.App. 284, 288, 635 S.W.2d 296, 299 (1982), subsequent appeal, 11 Ark.App. XIX (1984).
This reasoning is clearly erroneous. We have made clear time and again that Miranda and concepts of "custody" have nothing to do with the accrual of a defendant's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to counsel. See, e.g., United States v. Henry, supra, 447 U.S., at 273, n. 11, 100 S. Ct., at 2188, n. 11; Massiah v. United States, supra, 377 U.S., at 206. Accordingly, I respectfully dissent from the Court's failure to correct a state court's clear disregard of controlling federal constitutional precedent.
During an undercover investigation in Blytheville, Arkansas, Sergeant John Chappelle of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division learned that Bud Sweat and his son, Russell, might be engaged in marihuana trafficking. Chappelle had an unwitting intermediary introduce him to the Sweats, and he proposed to sell them several hundred pounds of marihuana. Chappelle and the Sweats had several meetings and telephone conversations from early February through late March 1980, and they ultimately agreed that Chappelle would deliver 500 pounds of marihuana to Blytheville in exchange for $150,000. Chappelle surreptitiously taped these meetings and conversations.
When he felt that he had obtained enough evidence to prosecute the Sweats, Chappelle met on March 27 with David Burnett, Prosecuting Attorney for the Second Judicial District of the State of Arkansas. Burnett reviewed the evidence with Chappelle and decided to file a felony information against the Sweats charging them with criminal conspiracy in violation of Ark.Stat.Ann. 41-707 (1977).1 Chappelle was present while Burnett prepared [469 U.S. 1172 , 1174]