Brookhart v. Janis

PETITIONER: Brookhart
RESPONDENT: Janis
LOCATION: Where Penn was killed

DOCKET NO.: 657
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 384 US 1 (1966)
ARGUED: Mar 21, 1966 / Mar 22, 1966
DECIDED: Apr 18, 1966

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Brookhart v. Janis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 21, 1966 in Brookhart v. Janis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1966 in Brookhart v. Janis

Earl Warren:

James Brookhart, Petitioner, versus Martin A. Janis, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Corrections.

Mr. Conway, you may continue your argument.

Leo J. Conway:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

At the termination of my argument yesterday, I believe that it had been established that this procedure that was followed in the trial in this case, the prima facie case in which the State was only required to prove beyond the reasonable doubt all of the charges that was made.

But that the defendant in the case had waived his right to cross-examination and he was not going to present any evidence in his own defense was initiated to the Court or mentioned to the Court for the first time by defense counsel.

And it is submitted by respondent that he also had the last word as to what procedure was going to be followed.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Do you know something about this prima facie practice?

Is that -- is this just something that is followed in some of Ohio counties?

Leo J. Conway:

Mr. Justice Brennan, I can't say definitely how many counties this is followed in but I do know that it is followed in Stark County where this case was tried.

The basis, as I understand it, for the allowance of this type of procedure arose as a result of traffic manslaughter cases wherein the defendant had no defense against the charge but if he were allowed or if he were required, the man had plead guilty to the charge then this plea of guilty could be entered against him or could be considered by the Court in a civil action against him.

In another words, it practically met that when he went in to a civil action, he had confessed his guilt.

Now, I believe that and I can only say this from what I've been told in Stark County because personally I'd never heard of that procedure before myself.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

But would the conviction under this procedure have any different effect in the civil action?

Leo J. Conway:

The only effect is that he would not admit it.

He would've not admitted that he had performed the act which had caused the death in the civil procedure.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

But would the conviction be admissible in the civil procedure?

Leo J. Conway:

I think that the conviction itself might have been except -- and I'm not so sure of that but the fact is that he would not have admitted it by his own testimony in other words.

Earl Warren:

Is this provided by statute?

Leo J. Conway:

It is not, Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

Is this provided by rules of the Supreme Court?

Leo J. Conway:

It is not, Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

Is it provided by rules of that -- of this trial court that we --

Leo J. Conway:

It was only allowable by the trial court.

Earl Warren:

No, I ask you the rules.

Leo J. Conway:

And there are no rules that I know of that have provided and there are none indicated in Stark County that there would such a rule is evident.

Earl Warren:

Did you expect the man to know what he was going up against when he ask for, when he consented to a prima facie trial?

How would he know what his rights were and what his obligation were?

Leo J. Conway:

He had been provided with counsel and the counsel had discussed this with him.

Earl Warren:

How do you know?

Leo J. Conway:

Because he has indicated in his own petition for certiorari in this case that he -- forth went the right of cross-examination and the confrontation of witnesses because he had reliance upon his trial counsel.