Britt v. North Carolina

RESPONDENT: North Carolina
LOCATION: Tennessee Governor's Office

DOCKET NO.: 70-5041
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1971-1972)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 404 US 226 (1971)
ARGUED: Oct 14, 1971
DECIDED: Dec 13, 1971

Christine Y. Denson - for respondent
Robert G. Bowers - for petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Britt v. North Carolina

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 14, 1971 in Britt v. North Carolina

Warren E. Burger:

-- the number 5041, Britt against North Carolina.

Mr. Bowers you may Proceed whenever you are ready.

Robert G. Bowers:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The Chief Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Judge Raymond Mallard makes a comment frequently, has to me, that every case that he sees in his court has a hooker in it.

While I was noting the previous argument and this one has to do with a transcript, but it has a little bit different twist to it.

In this case, different from the previous case, the defendant, there is no question about his indigency now or then.

He is now in state prison, a young man who, I do not think there is any question ever raised by anybody, that he was absolutely indigenous.

He was tried in a trial beginning on November 11.

He was not convicted.

The jury verdict was never reached.

There was a mistrial order and the defendant was then set down for trial again.

Prior to the second trial, very shortly after the first trial a motion was filed for a transcript.

You will find the order of mistrial on page 11 of the appendix.

The affidavit -- on the bottom of that page it has motion for transcript which of course obviously is an affidavit in which the defendant signed an affidavit that he was indigent, that I had advised him that a transcript would be a great help and that it would be available if we could afford to pay for it.

The motion was made on that affidavit which was summarily denied by Judge Fountain (ph) who is a very fine and gracious Judge and very gifted Judge, but he and I disagreed on this but it was a matter of fact without argument denied to which the defendant accepted and this is the crux of our case of whether or not the defendant was entitled to a transcript of the evidentiary portion of the trial which commenced on November 11.

The mistrial was ordered on November 14.

The trial -- the jury had commenced its deliberation at 9:30 on that morning.

There where three days of trial.

Now, a question has been raised in the previous case about whether or not counsel could reconstruct.

Well, there again we have a peculiar situation here in which we do not need to have the reconstruction.

That was to probably done for purposes of an appeal, but for purposes of preparation and cross examination of the second trial this we thought was absolutely essential.

Harry A. Blackmun:

In other words, you want to defend this with the evidence of the state witnesses at the first trial?

Robert G. Bowers:

Yes sir.

Harry A. Blackmun:

And cross examine if they testified against the second trial?

Robert G. Bowers:

Yes sir, both for that and for investigative purposes prior to the second trial.

I will be very frank on this.

I used my own recollection in trying to investigate what had been brought out in the first trial and I do not know that I made many errors in them, but it would have still been most helpful.

Now, commenting collaterally on that, after the second trial and after we had transcript in preparation for the appeal to the Court of Appeals --

Now, which transcript?

Robert G. Bowers:

The second, of the second trial.