Ashdown v. Utah

LOCATION: United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 357 US 426 (1958)
ARGUED: Apr 01, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Ashdown v. Utah

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 01, 1958 (Part 2) in Ashdown v. Utah

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 01, 1958 (Part 1) in Ashdown v. Utah

Earl Warren:

Number 158, Milda Hopkins Ashdown, Petitioner, versus the State of Utah.

Judge Erickson.

J. Vernon Erickson:

Chief Justice Warren and fellow associates.

This is Ms. Milda Hopkins Ashdown, the brief of the petitioner setting out the jurisdiction of this Court is invoked under 28 U.S.C.A. Section 1257.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of the State of Utah entered on April the 30th, 1956 -- 1956, a petition which was denied, it was unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Utah.

This petition for writ of certiorari was filed on December the 7th, 1956 and a brief on opposition was filed by the respondent and the certiorari was allowed by this Court on June the 30th -- 30, 1957.

I've set out the record carefully.

Now, the constitutional provision is first the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in pertinent part.

I don't think I'll have to read that, Your Honors, all of that in Article 7, I've set out.

Third, the self-incrimination and Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and also the Utah section is quite set forth.

Now, the question presented before this Court whether the petitioner in a state capital case was denied due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The facts is this, the petitioner was taken in for question, questioning in a an emotional state and irrational state of mind immediately after the funeral of her deceased husband and was subjected to a series of constant interrogation by the sheriff and his deputies and the district attorneys for approximately five-and-a-half hours.

During the time, the petitioner did not have food, rest, was not properly advised of her constitutional rights.

She requested -- her relatives requested to go in there and they were denied that privilege.

She asked for legal counsel.

That was refused.

The record -- I have set the record up very carefully in my brief.

She was denied those rights.

Now, we set up this constant interrogation by the sheriff and his deputies without friends or relatives and the petitioner under three was denied due process of law because the jury under instructions says -- were asked to pass on weight and credibility given to the testimony concerning such admissions upon the considerations and the circumstances ruling on the testimony of all the witnesses in relation to there was not given to the jury.

Now, the statement of the case, it shows that the petitioner Milda Hopkins charges -- she was charged by information with murder in the first degree and the trial was held in Parowan from July the 5th -- no, excuse me please.

She was charged with murder in first degree in Iron County, Utah for killing a person of Ray Ashdown, the record shows that.

A trial was had before a jury in Iron counsel.

Counsel for the petitioner, which I represent, has followed this case to all courts and they're (Inaudible) as to affidavit and also a pauperism in this kind -- in this Court.

Now, the testimony shows the oral confession made by the petitioner during the interrogation, it was obtained in violation of her constitutional rights.

I've set the record down, record 88.

But the trial court ruled, admitted -- admitted such testimony, no other evidence was given after that.

The defendants rested and raised these provisions.

Later, the petitioner appealed from her conviction to the Supreme Court of the State of Utah and the Supreme Court of the State of Utah affirmed the judgment of conviction on April the 30th, 1956, shown in the record at page 153 and denied the petition for rehearing, October the 5th, 1956.

On December the 17th petition was filed for the writ of certiorari which was granted by this Court.

Now, the petitioner was the wife of Ray Ashdown, they lived at Cedar City, Utah.