Linkletter v. Walker

PETITIONER: Linkletter
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 381 US 618 (1965)
ARGUED: Mar 11, 1965
DECIDED: Jun 07, 1965

Facts of the case

Victor Linkletter was convicted in state court on evidence illegally obtained by police prior to the Supreme Court decision concerning the Fourth Amendment in Mapp v. Ohio. Mapp applied the exclusionary rule to state criminal proceedings, denying the use of illegally obtained evidence at trial. Linkletter argued for a retrial based on the Mapp decision.


Did the exclusionary rule established in Mapp v. Ohio apply retroactively?

Media for Linkletter v. Walker

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 11, 1965 in Linkletter v. Walker

Earl Warren:

Number 95 Victor Linkletter versus Victor G. Walker, Warden.

Mr. Screws.

Euel A. Screws, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

On August of 24th 1958, approximately 15 months after the illegal seizure, searches and seizure in the Mapp versus Ohio, petitioner was subjected to a series of illegal searches and seizures involving his home, his person and his place of business.

I believe that the State of Louisiana admits that these seizures were unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Three weeks after these searches, he was charged with the crime which was wholly unrelated to the original search.

He was convicted of this crime of burglary and sentenced to nine years in prison.

After his, the case of Mapp versus Ohio, the petitioner began a series of pro se habeas corpus petitions which finally ended in the opinion of the Fifth Circuit below.

I believe that the State of Louisiana has conceded that he has exhausted his advantages by the opinion below and the issue presented in the opinion below was whether or not the rule of Mapp versus Ohio should be applied retroactively to effect prisoners whose convictions became final prior to the date of Mapp versus Ohio.

Judge Reeves speaking for divided circuit hailed that Mapp would be applied prospectively and that the right not to be convicted on unconstitutionally seized evidence would not be accorded to Victor Linkletter because his conviction became final prior to the date of this Court's decision in Mapp.

The opinion below was based perhaps on three premises.

First that the purpose of the Mapp decision is deterrence and deterrence of illegal police action and this purpose can only be served or is mostly served by a prospective application of Mapp.

The second premises of the Fifth Circuit's decision was that orderly judicial administration requires a prospective as opposed to retrospective application.

And the third premise is that perhaps Mr. Linkletter and other prisoners who have been convicted on illegal seized evidence are in fact guilty and that the issue of fairness of the trial, that is the issue of guilt or innocence, his innocence is not before the Court and if this rule or constitutional right announced in Mapp should be given some sort of special treatment.

Now, we think that the opinion below is wrong on all three of these basic premises.

The circuits as this Court knows are split now 4 to 2, 4 holding that Mapp versus Ohio should be fully retroactive, I mean sorry, prospective application and two holding that the Mapp rule should be given retrospective application to all prisoners.

We think that --

Potter Stewart:

If there are some, there are some refinements on those two broad categories?

Euel A. Screws, Jr.:

Yes sir, there are some refinements, yes sir.

Basically the issues have been of cut and dry window I think as decided by perhaps --

Potter Stewart:

In other words some of the -- is question whether or not on direct appeal or on the collateral attack and whether or not the actual search occurred before or after Mapp, the trial so on, but there have been refinements drawn by some of the courts.

Euel A. Screws, Jr.:

Yes sir.

This Court has drawn one refinement by affording Mapp to cases that had not been finally decided by occurrence in Stoner and Fay decisions I believe --

Potter Stewart:

Without any real discussion on it?

Euel A. Screws, Jr.:

Yes sir that's right, procuring the (Inaudible).

We think that the fundamental personal right not to be convicted on unconstitutionally seized evidence is the rule of Mapp.

By emphasizing the purpose of deterrence, the Fifth Circuit has obliterated the rule itself.

Now, we concede that deterrence is perhaps a purpose or is a purpose.

This Court in Mapp state that the purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter or to compel respect for the constitutional guarantee in the only effective available way by removing the (Inaudible) to disregard it as a quote from the Elkins decision, but this is not the sole and exclusive purpose of Mapp.

We submit that the rule of Mapp or the purposes of Mapp, other purposes are that this right not to be unconstitutionally convicted or convicted on unconstitutional evidence is reserved to all persons.