Johnson v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District

DOCKET NO.: 5247
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 401 US 846 (1971)
ARGUED: Mar 24, 1971
DECIDED: Apr 05, 1971

Facts of the case


Media for Johnson v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 24, 1971 in Johnson v. United States

Warren E. Burger:

Arguments next in number 5247, Johnson against the United States.

Hugo L. Black:

Mr. Lippman.

William J. Lippman:

Mr. Justice Black and may it please this Court.

This case presents the question of the effect of a constitutionally invalid death sentence instruction upon petitioner's conviction for rape under the District of Columbia Rape Statute where the evidence of guilt was not compelling.

Briefly the facts, petitioner was convicted largely on the testimony of the complaining witness who testified that she was on her way to work on January 22, 1967 at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital when her car broke down in front of a gas station.

She went to the gas station to seek help.

Petitioner drove into the same gas station purely by happenstance.

He volunteered to push the petitioner's car to the parking lot at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital.

She accepted his offer.

Upon arrival at the parking lot, she testified that he forced her into his car and drove off.

Shortly thereafter, they stopped at a gas station where he purchased a dollar's worth of gas.

There was an attendant present.

She made no outcry.

No effort whatsoever to seek the assistance of the attendant.

They then drove off to a secluded spot.

They talked for awhile.

He asked whether she was married, she said yes.

He asked whether she loved her husband, she said no.

He then asked her to remove her underclothes.

She proceeded to do so without any protest.

Following which, an act of intercourse took place.

After the act of intercourse, at her request he drove her back to the -- to work to the Saint Elizabeth's parking lot.

She gave him her car keys.

He gave her his correct phone number.

He promised to return that afternoon to help start her car.

He did return that afternoon when he was promptly arrested and charged with rape.

Throughout the entire episode, the complaining witness offered no protest or resistance by word or action because she said she was in fear for her life.

She testified that she suffered from a thyroid condition but no medical testimony was adduced to corroborate this point.

The complaining witness was unmarked.

There was no evidence of force other than her own testimony that she was in fear for her life.