Bumper v. North Carolina

PETITIONER: Wayne Darnell Bumper
RESPONDENT: North Carolina
LOCATION: Alamance County

DOCKET NO.: 1016
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: North Carolina Supreme Court

CITATION: 391 US 543 (1968)
ARGUED: Apr 24, 1968 / Apr 25, 1968
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1968
GRANTED: Jan 15, 1968

Harry W. McGalliard - for the respondent
Norman B. Smith - for the petitioner

Facts of the case

Wayne Darnell Bumper was investigated and eventually arrested on charges of rape and felonious assault. During the investigation, police officials searched the home of Mrs. Hattie Leath, Bumper’s grandmother, with whom he was living at the time. Leath consented to a search of her home, but only after the police officials informed her they had a warrant, which they did not actually have. The officers found a rifle that was later introduced into evidence at Bumper’s trial. The trial court allowed the rifle to be entered into evidence because it held that Leath had consented to the search. The Supreme Court of California affirmed.


Is a search considered lawful under the Fourth Amendment on the basis of consent when the consent was given only after the police official claimed he had a warrant for said search?

Media for Bumper v. North Carolina

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 25, 1968 in Bumper v. North Carolina

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 24, 1968 in Bumper v. North Carolina

Earl Warren:

No. 1016, Wayne Darnell Bumper, petitioner, versus North Carolina.

Mr. Chief Justice --

Earl Warren:

Mr. Smith.

My gather -- I want to make a motion.

Earl Warren:

Oh, yes, very well.

I would like to move that Mr. Norman B. Smith of the North Carolina bar be admitted to appear for the petitioner in this case pro hac vice.

He is qualified, have experience and ability.

Earl Warren:

Your motion is granted, Mr.--

Norman B. Smith:

Thank you, Mr. -- Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Smith.

Norman B. Smith:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

I represent the petitioner in this case of Bumper versus the State of North Carolina.

It comes on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

It originated there or came there as a direct appeal from a conviction in one of our superior courts of one of our counties in North Carolina.

The petitioner was convicted on October of 1966 on a Capital Bill of rape.

The jury recommended mercy, however, and so he was not given the death sentence.

He was also convicted in the same proceeding on two indictments of aggravated assault.

He was sentenced to serve two-year -- two ten-year sentences, plus a life sentence in the State Prison.

The questions which are before the Court are two.

One of the questions is almost identical to the one involved in the Witherspoon case.

That is namely the constitutionality of the exclusion of jurors who have conscientious scruples against the death penalty, on due process, equal protection and impartial jury grounds.

The second question involves a search and seizure matter.

The state searched the premises where the defendant live with his grandmother and there seized a riffle, they did so purporting to act under a warrant.

At the trial of the petitioner however, the solicitor or prosecuting officer chose to rely solely on what he said was the voluntary consent of the petitioner's grandmother to the seizure of this rifle.

Supreme Court of North Carolina affirmed on that ground both of the questions at bar in this Court were presented to the Supreme Court of North Carolina and there's no question about the petitioner's having raised this questions in apt time both at the trial in the appellate levels.

Now, the matter involving the first question of the conscientious scruples against the death penalty has been of course very thoroughly and ably explored by counsel in the preceding case.

And I would like to reserve most of my time to argue on the search and seizure question but I have a few matters of impression on the conscientious scruples issue which I would like to discuss with the court if the court pleases.

Now, to begin with, this case differs from the Witherspoon case in that my client, his trial was permitted to ask plenty of questions to the prospective jurors.

The judge himself asked lots of questions.

And I think there's only really the case of maybe one or two prospective jurors on the voir dire who were not quite thoroughly gone over on this question of whether they had conscientious scruples against the death penalty.