Brady v. Maryland

LOCATION: Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 373 US 83 (1963)
ARGUED: Mar 18, 1963 / Mar 19, 1963
DECIDED: May 13, 1963
GRANTED: Oct 08, 1962

E. Clinton Bamberger, Jr. - for the petitioner
Thomas W. Jamison, III - for the respondent

Facts of the case

A Maryland jury found John Brady and Charles Boblit guilty of first-degree murder in the state Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County. Brady maintained that he participated in the preceding robbery, but not in the killing. At sentencing, both men received the death penalty. After trial, Brady learned that Boblit previously confessed to the murder, but the prosecution suppressed that evidence for Brady’s trial. On appeal, the Maryland Court of Appeals held that suppression of the confession denied Brady due process and remanded the case to reconsider the question of punishment only.


(1) Did the prosecution’s suppression of Boblit’s confession deny Brady due process?

(2) Was the Maryland Court of Appeals wrong to remand only on the question of punishment?

Media for Brady v. Maryland

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 18, 1963 in Brady v. Maryland

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 19, 1963 in Brady v. Maryland

Earl Warren:

- 490, John L. Brady, petitioner versus Maryland.

Mr. Jamison, you may continue your argument.

Thomas W. Jamison, III:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Yesterday before the recess, I had sought to establish two facts which I believe must be considered during the study of this case.

First of all, the statement of the confederate, Boblit, contains nothing, which would exculpate Brady from guilt of first-degree murder under the Maryland felony murder statute.

It merely contains the assertion or the admission that Boblit himself actually strangled the victim, but it places Brady at the scene of the crime as the man who knew Brooks, as the man who said, “We have got to kill Brooks,” as the man who said “We've have got to strangle Brooks.”

Secondly, the attorney representing John Brady determined before the trial even began that the real issue in the trial was not guilt or innocence, but penalty for murder in the first-degree.

In other words, he sought to persuade the jury to bring in a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder without capital punishment.

Now, at the trial of the case, Brady took the stand and again Brady admitted as he had in his statements, which he had given to the police prior to his trial, he again admitted he had participated in the robbery, but denied he had actually committed the homicide.

In his --

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Jamison what happens in Maryland if a man pleads guilty to the first-degree murder or doesn't that really happen?

Thomas W. Jamison, III:

Mr. Justice Stewart, if a man pleads guilty to first-degree murder then the court would have the option as to whether or not to sentence him to death or to sentence him to life imprisonment.

Potter Stewart:

And he doesn't get a jury trial on that punishment?

Thomas W. Jamison, III:

He would not have a jury trial.

Potter Stewart:

This is a function of a single judge, is that it?

Thomas W. Jamison, III:

That's correct Your Honor, it's merely a question of sentence.

The closing argument or at least the -- the closing argument to the jury by a counsel for Brady consisted of a confession of guilt of first-degree murder.

Now when Brady again went to court himself to testify at the post-conviction hearing before the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, he again admitted his guilt of first degree murder.

He admitted that he was there and he participated in the robbery.

He admitted the facts which constitute first-degree murder on the statute.

So --

Earl Warren:

And also that the murder was committed at the time of the robbery, not later, is that correct, because I did notice some place along the line here where it was contended that the murder was detached from the robbery itself?

Thomas W. Jamison, III:

I believe Mr. Chief Justice that point was raised in Brady's appeal from his conviction.

Earl Warren:

But not at the trial, I think you answered that yesterday?

Thomas W. Jamison, III:

I stand corrected Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Bamberger reminds me of Boblit's appeal that actually raised that point.

They were tried -- they were argued together, the two appeals were tried under one argument.

Earl Warren:

I see and Brady did not raise it at all?

Thomas W. Jamison, III:

Apparently not Your Honor.

Earl Warren:


Thomas W. Jamison, III:

But at any rate this point was brought up at the post-conviction hearing.