Brown v. Illinois

PETITIONER: Richard Brown
LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois

DOCKET NO.: 73-6650
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Illinois

CITATION: 422 US 590 (1975)
ARGUED: Mar 18, 1975
DECIDED: Jun 26, 1975
GRANTED: Oct 21, 1974

Jayne A. Carr - for respondent
Robert P. Isaacson - for petitioner, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court

Facts of the case

On May 6, 1968, Roger Corpus was shot and killed in his apartment. The police obtained the name of Richard Brown, who was identified as an acquaintance of the victim, though not a suspect. On May 13, 1968, detectives arrested Brown and searched his apartment without probable cause and without a warrant. The detectives read Brown his Miranda rights and proceeded to question him. During the questioning, Brown confessed to assisting in Corpus’ murder. Later, Brown was questioned again after being read his Miranda rights a second time. He substantially repeated his account of the murder.

Prior to his trial, Brown moved to suppress the two statements based on the fact that his arrest was illegal and the statements were taken in violation of his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. The motion was denied and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found Brown guilty. The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the judgment but did not accept the State’s argument that the arrest was legal.


Should inculpatory statements resulting from an illegal arrest but after the reading of Miranda rights be admissible in trial?

Media for Brown v. Illinois

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 26, 1975 in Brown v. Illinois

Harry A. Blackmun:

The last case, Brown against Illinois comes to us from the Supreme Court of Illinois.

The petitioner was arrested without probable cause and without a warrant when two Chicago plainclothes detectives broken to his apartment and awaited his return.

They were investigating the murder a few days earlier of a man named Corpus.

Brown was an acquaintance of that decedent.

Brown was taken into custody and removed to the police station.

And there he was warned of his rights under Miranda versus Arizona and despite this warning, he gave two inculpatory statements, each of which was reduced to writing.

He signed one but not the other.

His pretrial motion to suppress those statements was overruled.

We thus have a situation where it is conceded that his arrest was unlawful.

But where during the custody incident to that arrest he was given proper Miranda warnings and in the face of those warnings, issued statements that implicated him in the crime under investigation.

The Illinois courts held that despite the unlawfulness of the arrest, the statements were admissible because the giving of the Miranda warnings broke the causal connection between the illegal arrest and the giving of the statements.

And thus his act in making the statements was sufficiently an act of free will to purge the primary taint of the unlawful invasion.

This issue takes us to the Court's decision in Wong Sun against the United States decided here 12 years ago.

In an opinion filed today, we hold that the Illinois courts were in error when they adopted a per se rule that the giving of the Miranda warnings in and of themselves broke the causal chain so that the later statement even if it were one induced by the continuing effects of unconstitutional custody was admissible so long as in the traditional sense it was voluntary and not coerced in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

We are here concerned however with the Fourth Amendment and its guarantee against unlawful searches and seizures.

The interest and the policies and the -- the Fourth Amendment serves are distinct from those served under the Fifth and thus even though the statements were found to be voluntary under the Fifth Amendment, the issue as to the propriety under the Fourth Amendment still remains.

We hold that the question whether a confession is voluntary under the guidelines of Wong Sun must be answered on the facts of each case.

The Miranda warnings are an important factor in resolving the issue but other factors also must be considered.

And of the course the burden of showing the admissibility of the in-custody statements of persons illegally arrested rest upon the prosecution.

We go on to hold that the state in this case failed to sustain its burden of showing that the petitioner's statements were admissible under Wong Sun.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Illinois is therefore reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

Mr. Justice White has filed a statement concurring in the judgment.

Mr. Justice Powell has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part and Mr. Justice Rehnquist had joined him in that opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Blackmun.