Davis v. North Carolina

RESPONDENT: North Carolina
LOCATION: Huck Manufacturing

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 384 US 737 (1966)
ARGUED: Apr 28, 1966
DECIDED: Jun 20, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Davis v. North Carolina

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 28, 1966 in Davis v. North Carolina

Earl Warren:

Number 815, Elmer Davis, Jr., Petitioner, versus North Carolina.

Mr. Bell.

Charles V. Bell:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

In this case Elmer Davis, the petitioner, contends that his petition for writ of the habeas corpus should be granted.

This case has been in the litigation for nearly seven years and Elmer Davis, a 35, now 35, I believe he was about 29 when this case started, is in the state present at Riley on death row.

We say we are -- I believe the state would even admit this that this case stands or falls with this confession.

What I mean by that?

That the only evidence that could possibly could link Davis with this murder is the confession, that's the only thing in this case.

Now if you have notice on the record page 110, that he was arrested by the Charlotte police on September the 21, 1959.

They went over there and arrested him.

They brought him back to Charlotte and in his presence they made out that arrest sheet.

Don't let him use the telephone, don't let him call anybody, and hold for Hucks and Fesperman RE - Foy Bell Cooper, that's the remedy.

So he was arrested right there in Belmont in the police station.

Potter Stewart:

He was a -- he had escaped from the prison, didn't he?

Charles V. Bell:

Yes, he had -- he escaped from Haywood County prison camp.

Potter Stewart:

And he -- where he was under a sentence and where he still had some 15 years to serve.

Charles V. Bell:

Yes, Your Honor.

Potter Stewart:

So there's no question about that – no question for propriety of the locking him -- locking him up, keeping him locked up for the (Voice Overlap)

Charles V. Bell:

Well they say that --

Potter Stewart:

Continue -- and deserve that present sentence where -- from which he'd escape.

Charles V. Bell:

Well what we contend in this case that the Charlotte Police Department went to Belmont and the record where arrest sheet solely indicates it and arrested him in Belmont, North Carolina which is another county and brought him back into Gaston for the crime or killing and murdering the white lady, Mrs. Foy Bell Cooper.

Then -- and we say that this -- the arrest sheet and be -- our points in this case that he was denied, one, he was denied counsel and number two that all of the facts and circumstances point unerringly that this is of course confession that it wasn't voluntarily given by Davis.

And if you -- the careful perusal of the fact presented by this record in this case would indicate that it was coerced that they used force and that would -- it was involuntarily obtained.

It's admitted Davis is an illiterate man who couldn't read and write.

When they brought him back to Charlotte and still no place I mean placing him in the county jail, they put him in the police lockup.

He was held in solitary confinement and held incommunicado for 16 days.

Potter Stewart:

Well, that could happen to anybody who has escaped from prison, isn't it?

Charles V. Bell:

No sir.

Potter Stewart:

He was under -- he was under a long prison sentence, what?

Charles V. Bell:

By --