Illinois v. Allen Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Defendant, Allen, appealed from a conviction he received after he was barred from his own trial for disrupting the judicial process.

Facts of the case

Question

Whether the Sixth Amendment gives a defendant an absolute right to attend his own trial.

Answer

When a defendant refuses to conduct himself in an orderly manner, he can lose his Sixth Amendment right to be present at his own trial.
Concurrence. Justice Brennan concurred, only adding that when a defendant is excluded from trial it should be incumbent upon the court to insure that the defendant has full communication with his attorney.

Conclusion

The court held that defendant could lose his right to be present at trial if such conduct persisted even after a trial judge’s warning that he would be removed if he continued his disruptive behavior. Defendant could have reclaimed the right to be present as soon as he was willing to conduct himself properly. Thus, the trial court did not err in removing him, which was one of three constitutionally permissible ways for a trial court to handle an obstreperous defendant.

  • Case Brief: 1970
  • Petitioner: Illinois
  • Respondent: Allen
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 397 US 337 (1970)
Argued: Feb 24, 1970
Decided: Mar 31, 1970