Mullaney v. Wilbur

LOCATION:Superior Court of Los Angeles County, CA

DOCKET NO.: 74-13
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 421 US 684 (1975)
ARGUED: Jan 15, 1975
DECIDED: Jun 09, 1975

Peter J. Rubin – for respondent
Vernon I. Arey – for petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for Mullaney v. Wilbur

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 15, 1975 in Mullaney v. Wilbur

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 09, 1975 in Mullaney v. Wilbur

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 74-13, Mullaney against Wilbur will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

This case comes to us from the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Petitioners are the State of Maine and its prison warden.

Respondent was convicted of murder under a Maine procedure that placed the burden on him to prove that he had acted in a heat of passion on sudden provocation.

Only if he carried this burden could he reduce the charge of murder to manslaughter.

After exhausting his state remedies, respondent filed a writ of habeas corpus in the Federal District Court challenging the Maine procedure.

For the reasons stated in our opinion filed today, we hold that the imposition of this burden on respondent constituted a denial of due process.

We follow this Court’s decision in In re Winship which requires the prosecution in a criminal case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt every fact necessary to constitute the charge — the crime charged.

Mr. Justice Rehnquist filed a concurring opinion in which the Chief Justice joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.