Parker v. North Carolina

RESPONDENT: North Carolina
LOCATION: St. Petersburg City Hall

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 397 US 790 (1970)
ARGUED: Nov 17, 1969
DECIDED: May 04, 1970

Facts of the case


Media for Parker v. North Carolina

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 17, 1969 in Parker v. North Carolina

Warren E. Burger:

Number 268, Parker against North Carolina.

Norman B. Smith:

May it please the Court.

Mr. Chief Justice.

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Smith.

Norman B. Smith:

I'm Norman Smith, I represent the petitioner in this case.

This is a companion case to the Albert case and it again has to do with our North Carolina statutory system on the rendering of guilty pleas in capital cases.

This proceeding is by habeas -- was by our statutory substitute for habeas corpus in North Carolina, our statutory Post Conviction Hearing Act.

There was a petition for certiorari from an adverse determination there to our Court of Appeals in North Carolina which is our intermediate Appellate Court for most matters, but which is a court of final appellate jurisdiction for post conviction matters.

Again, there was an adverse determination and again petition for certiorari that was filed in this Court, which of course was granted.

This case has its beginnings in 1964, in the summer of 1964 the petitioner who was then a 15-year-old child was arrested by police at gun point about 11:00 one night in the City of Roanoke Rapids in North Carolina and he was taken to an interrogation cell and there he was interrogated for a time.

He at first was extremely uncooperative, indeed refused to give his name and address.

However, he apparently from some source knew that it was good idea to ask for counsel under these circumstances and the record indicates without any impeachment or contradiction that he did request that a counsel be provided for him.

The police securing no fruits from their labors of interrogation on the initial interview placed him in a dimly lit or unlighted cell for the night in which there was no water available to him nor no food given to him.

He was held over night and next morning he was again interrogated, this time he broke down rather quickly and did render a statement to the police, an oral statement to the effect that he had gone into the house in question and that he had committed some form of house breaking or that he had gotten through the door and some manner.

The precise detail of this statement or confession is not a part of the record at any point along the way and I might like to point out to the Court here on this point that there was no hearing in Superior Court at the time the guilty plea was rendered in this case.

That is there was no evidentiary hearing, no -- none of the state's testimony was given insofar as the record indicates and I'm not personally aware that there was one.

There was some --

Potter Stewart:

Are you familiar or not with the -- with the law of your state which I certain I'm not to know whether it is the practice to do that or not sure or is it varied by county or is it varied by case or what?

Norman B. Smith:

It varies by the -- most of operation of individual solicitors and judge, There is as far as I know no statutory compulsion that this be done.

Some judges in the exercise of care like to have -- always have something on this order.

I think defendants quite clearly at this time also were permitted to make statements and to present evidence if they wished to do so.

Potter Stewart:

On this four I gather that is from the record of the other case?

Norman B. Smith:

Yes, there is no attention to the rules of evidence during such hearings.

The defendants are permitted to get up and through counsel or give all sorts of unsworn testimonies to what kind of good character they have and so forth and so on.

Potter Stewart:

This is a guilty plea and I suppose the purpose is to (a) ascertain whether the guilty plea is knowingly and voluntarily made not to cut against your case, I don't mean to, but and then but the purpose generally is for that and then also I suppose insofar as the trial judge has discretion in imposing sentence to apprise him of the circumstances of the offense so he can intelligently exercise his discretion, would that be?

Norman B. Smith:

Yes, Your Honor, I think that's true, I think some of our judges except the philosophy of Rule 11 to the effect that there should always be basis in fact for the plea and then also of course it must be knowingly and voluntarily --

Potter Stewart:

In this case, there was no discretion as far as the [Voice Overlaps] --

Norman B. Smith:

The record does indicate --

Potter Stewart:

-- am I correct about that?

Norman B. Smith:

There was some colloquially between the court and the defendant and between the court and defendant's mother in which the court did inquire in the certain circumstances of defendant, his age, his educational background.