Clewis v. Texas

LOCATION: Samuel Spevack's Office

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

CITATION: 386 US 707 (1967)
ARGUED: Mar 15, 1967
DECIDED: Apr 24, 1967

Facts of the case


Media for Clewis v. Texas

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 15, 1967 in Clewis v. Texas

Earl Warren:

Number 648, Marvin Clewis, Petitioner, versus Texas.

Mr. Legg.

Reagan H. Legg:

Mr. Chief Justice, associate Justices, and if the Court please.

This is a case where the petitioner was convicted by jury for the offense of murder in a Texas trial court and assessed to punishment of 25 years in the penitentiary.

That conviction was affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and we're here on writ of certiorari granted to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The case concerns, principally of course, the admission into evidence of what was the denominated state's Exhibit 13 which is found on page 428 of the record which was the third in a series of confessions which petitioner had signed while in custody of the police.

The central issue I think in the case evolves down to whether or not assuming, as I think we may at least, that the first two confessions here were involuntary, that they were coerced that they were given at the time when as the decisions of this Court have said, the petitioner's will were overwhelming, that assuming that to be the case then what is required in order to purify the effects of that coercion so that a person might freely and voluntarily make a subsequent confession concerning the same things.

Now, there was in this case of course a petitioner to briefly summarize, had never been in trouble before, he was arrested without a warrant after he had voluntarily come to the city of Midland in response to a request communicated to his sister by the sheriff's office that they would like to talk to him about some bones which had been uncovered some two miles northwest of the city.

He left immediately and came directly to the sheriff's office on Saturday night where he was questioned for about two hours and told to go home and to return the following morning about 8:30 or 9:00 am to talk to the sheriff.

He did go, but about 6 o'clock the next morning, a city police officer who had not participated in the investigation of the case and he testified that he knew very little about the case went to the place where the petitioner was and woke him up at 6 o'clock and told him to come on and go with him.

He took him then to the city jail where the interrogation process began.

Byron R. White:

Was that an arrest?

Reagan H. Legg:

Yes sir, that was an arrest and I believe that the officer concedes Mr. Justice White that it was an arrest.

He was asked the question incidentally at the trial why didn't procure a warrant for the arrest of the petitioner and he testified on page 170 and 171 of the record that he knew that he did not have grounds sufficient to obtain a warrant.

He did testify of course that he took his belongings from him and put him up which meant that he locked him in the cell.

Now, that police officer, the witness Morales testified to questioning the petitioner at least six hours during Sunday.

The petitioner said that it consisted of -- it was a lot more time in the night that he was questioned almost all day.

The police officers also admitted to interrogating him at night, but said they did not question him after midnight.

The petitioner had claimed that he was questioned until about 3 am on Monday morning.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Then may I ask if one of your position is then that this having been an illegal arrest not on probable cause at the time, everything after that is moot and that that ground alone inadmissible?

Reagan H. Legg:

Yes Mr. Justice Brennan, that is one of our positions on this appeal that the arrest being illegal and it being a fragment, disavowed all of the police officer of the -- of the law as they existed.

Because on the Texas law is I think we point that in our briefs where we cited the statutes, there was no cause for arresting him which would excuse rather an arrest without a warrant here.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

As to the third confession are you going to have a problem of attenuation of chain of events?

Reagan H. Legg:

Yes sir.

I believe that this is what it comes down to.

The -- and in order to get to that sir, I think that the contention here on the part of the state is that despite the coercion which I think in effect be admitted concerning the first two statements that because three days then passed in which both the petitioner and the state admit that the only or the principal certainly coercive circumstance was his confinement in custody.

I think that their contention is that that had been attenuated.

Earl Warren:

During those three days was he represented by counsel?

Reagan H. Legg:

No sir, he was not.

There's testimony in the record Mr. Chief Justice by the deputy sheriff who testified that he was not seen by counsel and to their knowledge he had no counsel.