Irvin v. Dowd

LOCATION: Circuit Court of Montgomery County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 366 US 717 (1961)
ARGUED: Nov 09, 1960
DECIDED: Jun 05, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Irvin v. Dowd

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1960 (Part 2) in Irvin v. Dowd

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1960 (Part 1) in Irvin v. Dowd

Earl Warren:

Number 41, Leslie Irvin, Petitioner, versus A. F. Dowd, Warden.

Mr. Lockyear.

Theodore Lockyear, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices of this honorable court.

During the months of December and March 1954 and 1955 in the area around Vanderburgh County, Indiana which is in the southern part of the State of Indiana and near the City of Evansville, there were approximately six murders committed.

Over the period of time from December to April of 1958 -- 1955, there was a widespread of newspaper publicity concerning the error of the police to capture the person who had committed these murders and also widespread public feeling as to people who were fearful of their own lives possibly.

On this -- on April the 8th, 1955, the defendant was arrested.

Later in April of 1955, he was arraigned and in May of 1955, a change of venue was taken from Vanderburgh County with the County seek an evidence though to Princeton, Indiana and the County of Gibson, Indiana, Gibson County, Indiana which is approximately 27 road miles from Evansville.

In October of 1959, prior to the trial of the cause, we found a motion for a change of venue and incurred in the motion, many of the newspaper clippings, statements that had been made by a police requested that the cause be which was then set for trial on November the 14th, 1955, the venue to a more convenient county.

From the original granting of the change of venue, the trial judge acted without hearing, without conducting a hearing under a statute in the State of Indiana, which directs the Court upon a motion for change of venue being filed to send that cause to the most convenient county.

No hearing was had as to what was the most convenient county under the circumstances.

John M. Harlan II:

Did you suggest that or did the defendant suggest the name of the county to which it should be granted?

Theodore Lockyear, Jr.:

We were not counsel at that time, Your Honor.

It's my understanding that that was done in chambers and I actually don't --

John M. Harlan II:

The record doesn't --

Theodore Lockyear, Jr.:

The record doesn’t show and I don't think anybody actually knows what took place.

The judge did testify at one time that he sent it there because there was an able judge and because there was a good road up there and it was near to Evansville.

The trial was actually commenced on November the 14th of 19 --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Gibson's contiguous to the county --

Theodore Lockyear, Jr.:

It adjoins, it adjoins, Yes.

Potter Stewart:

There's nothing in the statute to raise there that required -- that limits the change of venue to (Inaudible)

Theodore Lockyear, Jr.:

In our civil case at law as to civil cases, the law says that -- and this is unusual as I understand it in Indiana.

We make an affidavit that the county is biased and prejudiced, it doesn't even have to be an affidavit.

Now under the new Supreme Court rule and it goes to the adjoining county.

The language of the criminal change of venue which applies to murder merely says to the most convenient county.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

To the most convenient?

Theodore Lockyear, Jr.:

To the most convenient and that's all the direction, there are no cases which have interpreted most convenient.

No Indiana cases which have ever interpreted that.

Potter Stewart:

And this one was in fact to the adjoining or an adjoining.

Theodore Lockyear, Jr.:

Yes sir.

The jury selection which comprises the largest portion of the record which is on file with this Court and which was found in the habeas corpus hearing to apprise approximately three and a half weeks of a five-week trial.