In re Whittington

PETITIONER: In Re Whittington
LOCATION: New Kent County School Board

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 391 US 341 (1968)
ARGUED: Apr 02, 1968
DECIDED: May 20, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for In re Whittington

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 02, 1968 in In re Whittington

Earl Warren:

No. 701, In The Matter of Buddy Lynn Whittington, Petitioner.

Mr. Supman.

Jack Supman:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is here on a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the Juvenile Court of Fairfield County, Ohio, finding the petitioner to be a delinquent child.

I will describe pertinent facts and my co-counsel, Mr. Rezneck, will present the legal arguments.

Petitioner, Buddy Lynn Whittington, was charged with juvenile delinquency on the basis of a single act, the murder of a neighbor and family friend, 63-year-old Mrs. Gladys Willard on July 29, 1966 in the small village in Baltimore, Ohio in violation of the Second Degree Murder Statute of Ohio.

He was one week past his 14th birthday when the case arose.

This boy has consistently denied this crime.

He had never been in trouble with the law.

The District Court of Appeals found that there was an abundance of evidence as to Buddy Lynn Whittington's good character and reputation prior to July 29.

He was regular in attendance at school, church, Sunday school, and youth groups.

He had been obedient at home and at school, and subjected himself to the reasonable control of both his parents and teachers.

Mrs. Willard was reported missing on July 29th.

Many persons in the village, including the petitioner, engaged in a search for her lasting many hours.

Her body was discovered that evening by the petitioner and his father under the bed in petitioner's bedroom.

He was interrogated that night by the principal of law enforcement officials of the village and county, including the juvenile probation officer.

The defendant was interrogated in his home, which was under the exclusive control of the law enforcement officials from approximately 8:20 p.m. at home.

Although the total duration of the questioning is not established precisely by the record, probation officer Rutherford was specifically called after 10 p.m. to participate in an interrogation of this boy.

Buddy was given no warning as to his right to remain silent or to have the advice of an attorney.

While denying the crime, certain of his statements under the interrogation were used against him by the state in his trial to try to support his guilt.

He was formally arrested under a Juvenile Court warrant issued on the basis of a complaint charging him with being a delinquent.

The Juvenile Court judge issued this warrant after consulting with the Juvenile Court probation officer about the case.

The probation officer who is appointed by the Juvenile Court judge and works under the direction of the judge had interrogated the petitioner on the night of the crime, had accused petitioner of committing it, had participated with the prosecuting attorney and the police chief in the decision to bring the charge, executed the arrest warrant, and appeared as a witness against the petitioner at the trial.

There is no doubt from the record that prior to the filing of the complaint and the issuance of the arrest warrant, probation officer Rutherford consulted ex parte with Judge Hastings about the case.

On a motion to dismiss because of the fact that the judge had discussed the case with Rutherford, the Court called Rutherford as a witness and Rutherford said he had reported on his investigation to the judge.

The judge himself not only did not explain or testify as to the extent of the consultations but foreclosed further inquiry by us into what Rutherford reported about the case prior to the filing of the complaint and subsequently.

After the arrest, petitioner was put into solitary confinement in a cell in the Fairfield County Jail at adult penal institution.

Fairfield County does not have a juvenile detention facility.

The small cage-like cell had no light bulb and it merely contained a bed and a toilet.

Everyone agreed, including the judge that this jail was not a proper place of confinement for a juvenile, but the state took the position that it was the only place they had.