RESPONDENT: New Jersey
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona
DOCKET NO.: 762
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
CITATION: 384 US 719 (1966)
ARGUED: Mar 01, 1966 / Mar 02, 1966
DECIDED: Jun 20, 1966
Facts of the case
Media for Johnson v. New JerseyAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 02, 1966 in Johnson v. New Jersey
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 01, 1966 in Johnson v. New Jersey
Number 762, Sylvester Johnson and Stanley Cassidy, Petitioners, versus New Jersey.
Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.
This case is here on a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court of New Jersey which denied a petition for post-conviction relief.
The -- there was a murder, a homicide at 6:10 p.m. on a Friday evening, January 24th, 1958.
At 1:30 p.m. the following Tuesday, a defendant by the name of Godfrey was arrested in the company of someone else.
The petitioner Cassidy was not arrested until 4 a.m. in the morning, Wednesday morning, after the homicide January 29th and petitioner Johnson was not arrested until 5 p.m.that evening, Wednesday evening, the 29th of January.
After the arrests of these three individuals during those two days, the three of them gave a total of six statements, incriminating statements.
From the time each of them were arrested, they were in the complete custody of the police and they were in custody for quite sometime as will developed during the course of the arguments.
Now, it is our position that the argument here falls into three major categories of arguments.
First of all, we are suggesting that the means of eliciting these confessions and using them at the time of their trial, during the time when they were not advised of their right to counsel, they were not advised of their right to remain silent and to make no statements.
They were not permitted to see family.
They were not proceeded -- permitted to see counsel even though they requested it.
They were held for several days without a preliminary hearing.
Although, I will put note that to say that one of the petitioners was given a form of a hearing, he was arrested not at the scene of the crime where they were ultimately tried in Camden.
But he was arrested in Newark and there was a form of a preliminary hearing during which apparently the only thing that happened was a transfer of custody from the Newark police to the Camden police.
Nothing in the record shows us exactly what took place there, although, we do have an affidavit of that petitioner that he was not advised of any rights or told of his right to counsel at that time.
Is there a coerced confession claim in this case?
Yes, sir, there is.
There is in two respects.
First of all, we feel that the totally of the circumstances here under which they were illegally detained, they were held incommunicado.
They were not told of their right to remain silent.
They were confronted with the confessions of the other defendant who late -- which later were held to be coerced by the Third Circuit that the totally of all these circumstances show that these people were overborne.
And we also wish to urge that the interpretation of the Escobedo case which we feel means if the Six Amendment is giving effect to the Fifth Amendments shows that the absence of counsel here and the absence of an advice of their right to counsel deprive them of the one feature which is essential on all confession cases, the right to make a free choice.
They did not have the right to make a free choice because they were not in possession of the facts necessary to make a free choice.
We have another line of arguments here which does not involve the Escobedo interpretation.
And that is that these individuals who sought separate trials, who sought to have their cases severed and who sought during the course of the joint trial after they were refused separate trials, the use of this cross-implicating confessions against each other deprived them of a fair trial.
In the sense of the Aranda decision in California and as now seems to be the practice announced in a New York and a New Jersey case, Young case which is cite in our brief.
And lastly, the inflammatory comments and summation by the prosecutor deprived them of a fair trial.
Now, I might state that there were two other issues which were raised in our petition for certiorari which have been rendered both by decisions of this Court.