Carter v. Kentucky

LOCATION:Home of George Summers

DOCKET NO.: 80-5060
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Kentucky Supreme Court

CITATION: 450 US 288 (1981)
ARGUED: Jan 14, 1981
DECIDED: Mar 09, 1981

Kevin Michael McNally – on behalf of the Petitioner
Robert V. Bullock – on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Carter v. Kentucky

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 14, 1981 in Carter v. Kentucky

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 09, 1981 in Carter v. Kentucky

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and the opinion of the Court in Carter against Kentucky will be announced by Mr. Justice Stewart.

Potter Stewart:

This case No. 80-5060 is here by a reason of the grant of petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Kentucky.

In this case, a Kentucky criminal trial judge refused a defendant’s request to give the following instruction to the jury.

“The defendant is not compelled to testify and the fact that he does not cannot be use as an inference of guilt and should not prejudice him in anyway.”

The Supreme Court of Kentucky found no error.

We granted certiorari to consider the petitioner’s contention that a defendant upon request has a right to such an instruction under Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

For the reasons stated in detail in the Court’s written opinion filed today, we have concluded that the petitioner is correct.

Accordingly, the judgment is reversed and the case is remanded to the Supreme Court of Kentucky for further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court’s opinion.

Although, joining the opinion of the Court, Justice Powell and Justice Stevens have each filed concurring opinions and Justice Brennan has joined Justice Steven’s concurrence.

Justice Rehnquist has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Stewart.