Parker v. Gladden

PETITIONER: Lee E. A. Parker
RESPONDENT: Clarence T. Gladden
LOCATION: Multnomah County Circuit Court

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 385 US 363 (1966)
ARGUED: Nov 09, 1966
DECIDED: Dec 12, 1966
GRANTED: Apr 18, 1966

David H. Blunt - for the respondent
John H. Schafer - for the petitioner

Facts of the case

On May 19, 1961, the Multnomah County Circuit Court convicted Lee E. A. Parker of second-degree murder and sentenced him to the Oregon State Penitentiary for a potential maximum of the remainder of his life. The Supreme Court of Oregon affirmed his conviction, and denied a rehearing on October 8, 1963. During the trial, the bailiff stated to Mrs. Gattman, an alternate juror, “Oh, that wicked fellow, he is guilty.” Misses Inwards and Drake, both regular jurors, overheard this statement. Parker was not aware of these statements during the trial, and consequently did not bring them to the attention of the court.

After the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, Parker gave his wife a tape recording and asked her to contact members of the jury to find new grounds for setting aside his conviction. Mrs. Parker secured the names of the jurors and contacted three, Misses Inwards, Drake and Gattman. Mrs. Gattman was an alternate juror who expressed her displeasure with the verdict to Mrs. Parker. Mrs. Inwards gave conflicting testimony in an affidavit; she initially testified that the bailiffs’ statements did not influence her testimony, but later stated that the remarks could have affected her decision. Mrs. Gattman was the only juror who was sure of the bailiffs’ statements, and later admitted that she was disturbed by the verdict. Mrs. Drake gave an account of the bailiff’s statements that conflicted with Mrs. Gattman’s.

Parker filed for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction trial court held that the trial court would have granted a new trial if it had been aware of the bailiff’s statements. The Oregon Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erroneously applied the statutory standard for judging a motion for a new trial under the Oregon Post Conviction Act. It also held that the bailiff’s statements did not violate Parker’s state or federal constitutional rights.


Was Parker’s right to due process violated when a bailiff told two jurors, “Oh, that wicked fellow, he is guilty”, and “If you find him guilty and there is anything wrong, the Supreme Court will correct it”?

Media for Parker v. Gladden

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1966 in Parker v. Gladden

Earl Warren:

Number 81, Lee E.A.Parker, Petitioner, versus Clarence T. Gladden, Warden.

Counsel are you ready?

Mr. Schafer.

John H. Schafer:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The question we have before you on this case is whether the Supreme Court of Oregon was correct in holding that it's Fourteenth Amendment obligation to afford a fair and impartial trial was not violated in affirming a conviction for second degree murder when three jurors were told by an officer of the state during the course of the trial that the defendant was in fact guilty.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Is that the actual language?

"Oh, that wicked fellow, he had killed him?"

John H. Schafer:

You have to think Your Honor that it may have been sifted down a little bit.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Oh, oh.

John H. Schafer:

It just came through though.

I don't know.

I can't tell you.

It does sound remarkable.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

It sounds from an 1890 --

John H. Schafer:

I have to agree.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Who done it then?

John H. Schafer:

I have to agree.

The facts in the case are not -- I believe in any dispute whatever.

This petitioner was once tried for first degree murder.

He was convicted of second degree murder.

That conviction was set aside by the Oregon Supreme Court.

A new trial was had in which the event occurred which brings the case to this Court.

That new trial again resulted in a conviction for second degree murder.

Petitioner was sentenced to life imprisonment.

That conviction was subsequently affirmed by the Oregon Supreme Court.

After that affirmance petitioner instituted pursuant to Oregon Statute a post-conviction hearing in which he alleged a number of things.

And in which he proved that in the words of the trial court and -- or the hearing court I should say, I'm reading page 197 of the record.

That the bailiff of the State of Oregon said to three jurors, two or three jurors in effect, “Oh, that wicked fellow.

He is guilty”, and also said to them, “If you find him guilty and there's anything wrong, the Supreme Court will correct it”.

Now in spite of that odd language, there was the finding made by the hearing court that those things were in fact said -- that they were in fact said to two or three jurors.