Griffin v. California

RESPONDENT: California
LOCATION: The Realtor Building, formerly McCrory’s Five and Ten Cent Store

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 380 US 609 (1965)
ARGUED: Mar 09, 1965
DECIDED: Apr 28, 1965

Facts of the case


Media for Griffin v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 09, 1965 in Griffin v. California

Earl Warren:

Number 202, Eddie Dean Griffin, versus -- Petitioner, versus California.

Morris Lavine:

Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Supreme Court and may it please the Court.

Now this is a death penalty case of an indigent Negro and the issues involved here are whether the use by the State of California in its prosecution and by the prosecutor to comment on the failure of the defendant to take the witness stand is in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

The second point that I intend to raise is the question of whether the use of evidence brought in from Mexico after a judgment of dismissal by the Mexican Court was in violation of due process of law and in violation of those principles of law in which a defendant cannot be twice subjected to the same matters which have been previously adjudicated.

The third point that I intend to raise is the unconstitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of Section 190.1 of the constit -- of the Penal Code of the State of California which permits on the penalty issue of a criminal trial, a prosecution to bring in all kinds of matters, the horrors of the particular crime charged allowed them to bring in evidence from Mexico, allows them to go back into the history of the defendant and the great many things which I have nothing to do with the crime that is on trial in which I respectfully contend is in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

If you had sentenced him in a trial, a separate trial from the from the --

Morris Lavine:

It was a separate proceeding of the same trial Your Honor.

The same jury?

Morris Lavine:

It's the same jury, or a separate jury depending on the will of the judge.

But this evidence that you're complaining about --

Morris Lavine:

Was with before the same jury --

-- doesn't -- does no go in before the jury that tries the issue of guilt.

Morris Lavine:

No, it goes on -- oh yes, it does unless the judge orders a separate jury or a different jury but it goes before --


Morris Lavine:

-- maybe I didn't understand your question Justice Harlan.

Before the -- in the first trial where the jury passes on guilt, essence of guilt, is this extraneous evidence as you call it introducible at that stage?

Morris Lavine:

No, that's not Your Honor.

That's what I meant.

Morris Lavine:

Now, the fourth point that I intend to raise is the insufficiency of the evidence in this particular case in contrary to the statement of counsel for the People I respectfully contend that there is no proof in this case of a substantial nature that there was any attempt, there was any rape or any attempt to rape the woman who is deceased.

This involves a 49-year old Negro woman.

I may state Your Honors that I have the privilege of standing before this Court 18 years ago in the case of People -- of Adamson versus California formerly People versus Adamson in which Justice Black who now sits on the Court wrote the eminent dissenting opinion in which four justices concurred.

I may state that Your Honor as I'm looking at the landmark -- the case that has been referred to by the People in Twining versus New Jersey in 211 U.S. which was a direct evidence case coming out of New Jersey in which they relied on in their brief that there is -- that in that case the issue was not raised under the Fifth Amendment but was raised under the privileges and immunities clause and I know that something very interesting that there is a wonderful dissenting opinion by a Justice named Harlan J. whom I assumed is your illustrious father, it's very long and I won't take the time to read it but I will read one paragraph if I may of that dissenting opinion which should apply to the case today.

What let me inquire must then have been regarded as principles that were fundamental in the liberty of the citizen.

Every --


Morris Lavine:

Oh no.

I wouldn't say that Your Honor was bound but I would say that you would look up to your illustrious parent who had a wonderful record on this Court and I merely cite this case to illustrate that even as far back as that case the principle which I have here is now again for reconsideration before this Court.

And I --


Morris Lavine:

Yes, grandfather, yes.