Baldwin v. New York

LOCATION: Dodge County Juvenile Court

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)

CITATION: 399 US 66 (1970)
ARGUED: Dec 09, 1969
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1970

Facts of the case


Media for Baldwin v. New York

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 09, 1969 in Baldwin v. New York

Warren E. Burger:

Number 188, Baldwin against New York.

If you'll give us just a moment to get ourselves collected Mr. Hellerstein, we'll be right with you.

You may proceed whenever you're ready.

William E. Hellerstein:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

New York City, (Inaudible) which is comprised is the only jurisdiction in this country that denies to its citizens a right to jury trial for a crime punishable by as much as one-year imprisonment.

Indeed in the remaining 57 counties in the State of New York, a person is entitled to a jury trial of six requiring unanimous verdict.

Thus the question which this case brings to this Court whether Section 40 of the New York City Criminal Code Act set forth at pages 3 and 4 of our brief violates the Sixth Amendment as applied to the states in the Fourteenth in denying jury trial for what we deem to be a serious offense and also in view of the provision for jury trial elsewhere in the State of New York whether the Equal Protection Clause is so violated.

The records of facts in this case are relatively simple.

The appellant --

(Voice Overlap) The equal -- I miss that, how does the equal protection argument (Inaudible)

William E. Hellerstein:

Primarily Mr. Justice Harlan in that the State of New York making available to all its residents except those who reside in the City of New York, the right to a jury trial.

That's it.

William E. Hellerstein:


Warren E. Burger:

What you're saying in effect is that every state must be exactly the same, every state, city, county?

William E. Hellerstein:

Well, no Your Honor, I'm saying that where the state has undertaken to provide most of its citizenry apart from one city with the right to jury trial given what this Court has said in Duncan about the importance of right to jury trial as provided by the state.

Indeed in the deciding Duncan, this Court looked to the states to see how important that right was and they found that it was applied and provided for in all the states.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, I was really just pushing your argument one step beyond that that once you have a fixed cutoff time in one state, the citizens of every other state which does not comply with that favorably is involved in an equal protection problem.

William E. Hellerstein:

Well, that now I misunderstood Your Honor's question.

If that's all that's involved then there is no problem there because if New York is the only state which, New York City indeed, was the only state which has a problem that is before this Court namely right to a jury trial for a year then we don't have to equalize anything among the other states because this Court has already decided that a six-month period of time on an offense is petty and since all the other states do not deprive anybody of a jury trial for a years a time then there is no equalization required between New York and the rest of the country.

There is equalization required between New York City and the rest of the state, but I would like to get to the equal protection argument a bit later.

Well, that was a (Inaudible)

William E. Hellerstein:

The record -- the facts were essentially very simple.

This defendant, appellant was convicted after a one-judge bench trial for the crime of jostling and sentenced to one-year imprisonment.

The evidence in the case was that he was observed with his co-defendant crowding a woman on an escalator and the (Inaudible) terminal.

The arresting officer said that he saw defendant take either a loose cash, money from the woman's handbag or a $10 bill.

A motion for a jury trial was made in the criminal court and it was denied.

The New York Court of Appeals by majority decision, five to two felt that this Court's decision in Duncan did not require a holding that one-year was a serious crime nor did it require any different holding on equal protection.

The justices who dissented, Justice Burke and Keating took a much different view and of course it's much more consonant with our position.

Essentially, our Sixth Amendment argument is really broken down to three parts.

We think that although Duncan did not decide this question, the thrust of Duncan, the logic of Duncan resolves the issue for us.