Chaffin v. Stynchcombe

RESPONDENT: Stynchcombe
LOCATION: Frontiero's Residence

DOCKET NO.: 71-6732
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 412 US 17 (1973)
ARGUED: Feb 22, 1973
DECIDED: May 21, 1973

Glenn Zell - for petitioner
Richard E. Hicks - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Chaffin v. Stynchcombe

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 22, 1973 in Chaffin v. Stynchcombe

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments next in 71-6732, Chaffin against Stynchcombe.

Mr. Zell, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Glenn Zell:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is -- this case involves the re-sentence of a man to a higher sentence from retrial.

In the first trial Mr. Chaffin was indicted and convicted of robbery by open force and violence, received a sentence of 15 years.

I was then appointed to appeal his case.

I appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court and I raised one issue that of the -- an instruction involving the putting the burden of proving of alibi of the defendant.

It was affirmed, Thereafter it went to Federal District Court and in the lead case in Georgia, the alibi instruction in Georgia was struck down.

Now, Mr. Justice Black might be more familiar with the alibi instruction in Iowa when he was on the Eight Circuit.

He struck down a similar instruction in Iowa.

The state did not appeal.

Mr. Chaffin then was tried again on the same charge.

The evidence was exactly the same and I like to draw in this point for just a moment.

At the second trial, I was ordered to represent him in his trial.

I decided to add the defense of insanity.

I felt it was -- it involved with this particular person.

The evidence as to the crime was exactly the same, one eye witness, the victim.

One other witness who thought he couldn’t identify Mr. Chaffin but a man who resembled him.

The extra evidence that the Fifth Circuit in the decision points out and the state points out in their brief is that a psychologist and a psychiatrist were called to the stand to testify for and against the defendant.

I called a psychiatrist who said he thought he had a mental disorder.

The State called the psychiatrist to say he didn’t.

The State also called a few witnesses to testify as to the man’s appeared to be a rational prior to the crime, that was the extra evidence.

No extra evidence related to the crime at all.

The jury then came back with the sentence of life imprisonment.

A substantial increase.

Now let me say this to the Court.

I had submitted an instruction to the judge in the second trial that the jury should be charged if they could give Mr. Chaffin no more than 15 years what he got in the first trial.

The judge refused the instruction.

After the jury returned a sentence of life, I thereafter objected strenuously under Pearce versus North Carolina.

The judge refused and let the life sentence stand.