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Concurring Opinion

United States Supreme Court

338 U.S. 62

Turner  v.  Pennsylvania

 Argued: Nov. 16, 17, 1948. --- Decided: June 27, 1949

Mr. Justice BLACK concurs in the judgment on the authority of Chambers v. State of Florida, 309 U.S. 227, 60 S.Ct. 472, 84 L.Ed. 716;

For dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice JACKSON see 338 U.S. 49, 69 S.Ct. 1357.

On the record before us and in view of the consideration given to the evidence by the state courts and the conclus on reached, The CHIEF JUSTICE, Mr. Justice REED and Mr. Justice BURTON believe that the judgment should be djQ Mr. Justice DOUGLAS (concurring).

The undisputed facts surrounding the arrest and confession of the petitioner in this case are as follows:

Petitioner was arrested June 3, 1946, on suspicion of committing a homicide about six months after the crime had been committed. At the time of his arrest he was not taken before a committing magistrate, as required by Pennsylvania law. He was held five days before being lawfully committed to custody. During this confinement he did not have the aid of family, friends or counsel. He was not informed of his constitutional rights at the outset of his detention.

During this confinement petitioner was subject to continual interrogations by a number of police officers, who questioned him individually and in small groups. The day of his arrest he was questioned about three hours in the afternoon and again in the evening. The next two days he was questioned three to four hours in the afternoon. The next day the questioning was intensified and he was again subjected to both day and evening sessions. On the 7th of June, the day he finally confessed, the interrogations were intensive, once again being held afternoon and evening. Petitioner denied his guilt, even after being informed that other suspects had issued statements incriminating him. About eleven o'clock in the evening, after three hours of interrogation, petitioner finally indicated that he wished to make a statement. This confession was set down on paper the next day, and petitioner signed it after he had been committed by a magistrate.

These interrogations had been conducted by at least seven different officers. They were conducted in petitioner's cell in a small office, and in a room which had a stand-up screen where suspects were put for identification. It was admitted that the reason petitioner was not brought before a magistrate was because he had not given the answers which the police wanted and which they believed he could give.

The case is but another vivid illustration of the use of illegal detentions to exact confessions. It is governed by Watts v. state of Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 69 S.Ct. 1347.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).