Moore v. Illinois

LOCATION: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 69-5001
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Illinois

CITATION: 408 US 786 (1972)
ARGUED: Jan 18, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 29, 1972

Elmer Gertz - for American Civil Liberties Union, Illinois Division, and Illinois Committee for Abolition of Capital Punishment
James J. Doherty - for petitioner
Thomas J. Immel - for respondent
Willard J. Lassers - for American Civil Liberties Union, Illinois Division, and Illinois Committee for Abolition of Capital Punishment

Facts of the case


Media for Moore v. Illinois

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 18, 1972 in Moore v. Illinois

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in number 69 – 5001 Moore against Illinois.

Mr. Doherty, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

James J. Doherty:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the court.

In the prosecution for murder, the state concealed six items of exonerating evidence and used a weapon that was not connected with the petitioner Moore or the offense, that announced him as a bad man generally and the jury that had been selected in violation of Witherspoon standards found petitioner guilty and fixed his punishment of death.

This case begins at 10 PM on Wednesday, April 25, 1962.

A bartender in Lansing, Illinois ejected a profane customer on this tavern.

At 10:55 PM that customer rushed back in with a twelve gauge shot gun and shot him in the heart and killed him.

Two days later in the nearby Tavern a man known only by the nickname Slick bragged that he had shot the bartender in Lansing.

Trial was held 25 months later.

Two state witnesses identified petitioner Moore as the assailant.

Two of his employers testified that he was at work 50 miles North of Lansing, Illinois in Wilmette Country Club until after midnight.

Where is Lansing?

James J. Doherty:

Lansing is south your honor.

North of Chicago?

James J. Doherty:

Chicago, Riverdale, Dolton, South Holland, Lansing.

About 50 miles south of Chicago?

James J. Doherty:

Well, I do not know your honor.

I would say it about the 27 to 30 miles and a little bit East.

This is far southeast you should not get to (Inaudible) and Wilmette is way North and this was before we had that Dan Ryan Expressway opened up.

You could not have got there 50 miles except by going through small side streets of that, but nothing open, of course the auto drive is open.

Now, opposing those two people that said that he was the assailant, that these employers and verified by the work records, he was paid overtime, worked till after midnight that night.

The most damaging evidence against this man Moore on the testimony of state witness Virgle Sanders.

Virgle Sanders identified the petitioner Moore as a man that he knew, a man that he had seen several times before, but knew only by the nickname Slick.

He testified that on Friday afternoon, 1:30 PM, that is less than 40 hours after this killing, this man Slick was in the Tavern, Ponderosa Tavern and said to him “Hey, Virgle, it's Open Season on bartenders.

I shot one in the Lansing on last Wednesday night.”

Now five of the concealed items of exonerating evidence involved Virgle Sanders.

They were uncovered in the post conviction hearing that took place on January 1967.

Friday night, I mean Friday afternoon, April 27th at 1:30 PM that is the bragging incident.

Really the voluntary confession of this man Slick that he killed the bartender.

Next day, Saturday, a Lansing police are in that Ponderosa tap in their clock in to a man named William, Leon Thomson.