Crooker v. California

PETITIONER: John Russell Crooker, Jr.
RESPONDENT: California
LOCATION: West Los Angeles Police Station

DOCKET NO.: 178
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of California

CITATION: 357 US 433 (1958)
ARGUED: Apr 02, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1958

ADVOCATES:
Robert W. Armstrong - for the petitioner
William E. James - for the respondent

Facts of the case

On July 5, 1955, John Russell Crooker was arrested for the murder of his boss with whom he had been having an illicit relationship. For the next fourteen hours, Crooker was sporadically questioned and interrogated in his home and in the West Los Angeles Police Station; he repeatedly asked to meet with an attorney and was told that he could call only after the investigation was over. After fourteen hours of detainment and periodic interrogation, Crooker wrote a full confession to the murder. The next morning, Crooker was asked to orally repeat his confession, but he refused and again asked to speak with an attorney. Crooker was permitted to call his attorney at that point, and from then forward, he was represented by his counsel.

At trial, Crooker argued that his confession was obtained in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process because his confession was coerced by state authorities, and even if it was given voluntarily, he was denied the right to counsel. The issue of whether Crooker’s confession was voluntary was presented to the jury, which resolved the question against Crooker and convicted him. The Supreme Court of California affirmed.

Question

Is a confession obtained during an interrogation in which the suspect asked for and was denied access to counsel obtained in violation of the suspect’s Fourteenth Amendment right to due process?

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