Barker v. Wingo

PETITIONER: Willie Mae Barker
RESPONDENT: John W. Wingo, Warden
LOCATION: Christian County, Kentucky

DOCKET NO.: 71-5255
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 407 US 514 (1972)
ARGUED: Apr 11, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1972
GRANTED: Jan 17, 1972

James E. Milliman - pro hac vice, for the petitioner
Robert W. Willmott, Jr. - pro hac vice for the respondent

Facts of the case

On July 20, 1958, intruders beat an elderly couple to death in Christian County, Kentucky. Shortly afterward, police arrested Silas Manning and Willie Barker for the crime. Both were indicted on September 15 and assigned counsel on September 17. Barker’s trial was scheduled to begin on September 21, but the state believed it had a stronger case against Manning and that Manning’s testimony would be essential to convict Barker. The state obtained a series of continuances on Barker’s trial, as Manning was tried five times and finally convicted in 1962. Beginning in June 1959, Barker was out of prison on bail, and did not contest the continuances. Barker’s trial was set for March 19, 1963, and when the state requested further continuances, Barker unsuccessfully objected. At his trial beginning on October 9, 1963, Barker was convicted.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. Barker sought habeas corpus relief in district court, by arguing that the long trial delay violated his right to a speedy trial, which the district court denied. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court.


Can the right to a speedy trial be implicitly waived?

Media for Barker v. Wingo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 11, 1972 in Barker v. Wingo

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in number 71-5255 Barker against Wingo.

Mr. Milliman, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

James E. Milliman:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

First, I would like to reserve five minutes for rebuttal, if I may.

The facts to this case are --

Warren E. Burger:

The signal for that Mr. Milliman will be, when your white light goes on.

James E. Milliman:

Thank you, Your Honor.

The facts to this case are as follows.

The petitioner Willie Mae Barker was indicted in September of 1958 for the murder of Orlena Denton, a vicious heinous crime which he was accused of bursting into her bedroom and beat her to death with a tire iron with an accomplice one Silas Manning who becomes very relevant.

His case was originally set for trial in October of 1958.

However, there occurred a series of 16 continuances granted the prosecution in this case.

Willie Mae Barker was not brought to trial until October of 1963, a delay in excess of five years.

Warren E. Burger:

When did he have counsel?

James E. Milliman:

Counsel was appointed right after indictment, Your Honor.

He was represented by counsel throughout this delay.

We have no complaint in this regard.

Petitioner --

Did the counsel receive notice of the motions for continuance?

James E. Milliman:

Yes, Your Honor.

He had full notice to these motions for continuances.

Does the record show whether or not he was present.

Whether motion --

James E. Milliman:

The record does not show whether he was present Your Honor for this continuances.

There was no objection made to these continuances until 1962.

At which point counsel started objecting to this continuances.

But Barker was released on bail.

How many of continuances were granted over the objection of your client?

James E. Milliman:

I believe there were four or five, Your Honor.

They began -- the first motion to dismiss in this case was filed on February 12, 1962 and this is on page 9 of the appendix and thereafter the counsel for Willie Mae Barker at that time objected to further continuances.

There is some confusion as to whether or not it was 62 or 63.