Miller v. Pate

PETITIONER: Miller
RESPONDENT: Pate
LOCATION: Arnold Schwinn & Co.

DOCKET NO.: 250
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 386 US 1 (1967)
ARGUED: Jan 11, 1967 / Jan 12, 1967
DECIDED: Feb 13, 1967

Facts of the case

Although the law is called to protect the justice, sometimes the decisions made in the courtroom are dramatically wrong, The Miller v. Pate case brief describes the faulty criminal conviction. Such unfortunate situation happened because the prosecution involved the false evidence in the case and presented them as unarguable proof of guilt.

The convicted person was accused of rape-murder. The circumstances were ill-fated for the man because the investigator had found the stains of blood on his underwear shorts and claimed that the spotted gore was of the same type as the victim’s. The conviction was questioned in the court of Appeals that had approved the petition and reversed the verdict.

As the case study explains, the falsehood of the criminal charge was confirmed during the further habeas corpus proceeding. Only at the point of appeal, the court allowed the petitioner to send this piece of clothes to the laboratory. The analysis revealed that those stains that proved his guilt earlier in the District Court were actually not a blood. It was a paint, and as it turned out, the prosecution was aware of this fact all the way through the trial.

Soon thereafter, the District Court requested the retrial or the release of the wrongly convicted man. The situation is a clear example of wrongful accusation. In this particular case, the court of Appeals has followed the 14th Amendment, according to which the state criminal charge cannot be tolerated if it is based on the deliberate involvement of the false evidence.

Question

Media for Miller v. Pate

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 11, 1967 in Miller v. Pate

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 12, 1967 in Miller v. Pate

Earl Warren:

Petitioner versus Frank J. Pate, Warden.

Mr. Lassers, you may continue your argument.

Willard J. Lassers:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

At the habeas corpus hearing before Judge Perry, the -- we produced evidence regarding a pair of jockey shorts.

These shorts were originally introduced with the 1956 trial and at that time it was evidence from Mr. Litterly that I mentioned yesterday that these shorts have Type A blood on them and there was some out there evidence which we question that that the little girl who was murdered also had Type A blood and these shorts according to the prosecution theory had been worn by the petitioner and had been abandoned by him in his flight.

We pre --

Earl Warren:

May I ask?

How did the testimony of the little girl who had Type A blood get into the case?

Willard J. Lassers:

The mother was -- testified to that effect.

It was a hearsay testimony as far as she was concerned but it got into the record.

Earl Warren:

You say, she did not testify --

Willard J. Lassers:

She did.

The mother of the little girl testified, Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

-- in shape that --

Willard J. Lassers:

In shape, yes, correct.

Earl Warren:

Based upon what did she say?

Willard J. Lassers:

She didn't say.

It was fudge.

It appeared as though she was based at a school record tied in with the child's weight.

But she made the statement that she had a Type A blood and that's all the evidence there was at the trial as to the little girl's blood type.

Hugo L. Black:

Is there any question about the accuracy of the statement?

Willard J. Lassers:

Well, we -- we think it was hearsay evidence, Mr. Justice Black.

Hugo L. Black:

I understand that it was hearsay --

Willard J. Lassers:

Yes.

Hugo L. Black:

-- but it was in without objection.

Willard J. Lassers:

Well --

Hugo L. Black:

Is there any question about the accuracy?

Willard J. Lassers:

We have no way of knowing positively because the child is dead.

So we can't verify one way or the other.

Hugo L. Black:

Have you made any efforts to find out?