Parker v. Randolph

LOCATION: Circuit Court of Jackson County

DOCKET NO.: 78-99
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 442 US 62 (1979)
ARGUED: Mar 20, 1979
DECIDED: May 29, 1979

Michael E. Terry - for petitioner
Walter L. Evans - for respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Parker v. Randolph

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 20, 1979 in Parker v. Randolph

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear argument next in Parker against Randolph.

Mr. Terry, I think you may proceed now whenever you're ready.

Michael E. Terry:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The case which I have the privilege of presenting to this Court began in Memphis, Tennessee in 1970.

As the Sixth Circuit opinion states, “This matter involves a sequence of events which have the flavor of the old West before the law crossed the Pecos.

The difference is that here, as the Sixth Circuit stated there are no real heroes and there was a trial.”

It seems that in July of 1970, a Las Vegas gambler by the name of William Douglas came to Memphis with a gun, an alias, and a device for marking cards.

Douglas sought through some local connections in Memphis, a card game.

He was introduced eventually to a Memphis gambler by the name of Robert Wood.

Wood apparently felt that through his skill at poker he would be relieved Douglas of his money.

However, Douglas opted for the advantages of marking the cards rather than the uncertainties of skill and in three head to head matches he relieved Wood, Robert Wood, of approximately $5,000.00.

And Wood apparently had some confidence in himself and in his game because he didn't blame the losses on his own incompetence and began to suspect that he was being cheated.

He became convinced that he was being cheated and together with his brother, Joe Wood, had formed a plan to recoup his losses.

That plan involved using Joe Wood and three respondents in this matter to rob a fourth poker game between Mr. Douglas and Robert Wood.

Thus, Robert Wood's plan in a nutshell was to recoup his gambling losses by the robbery proceeds.

Prior to the night of the fourth game, Mr. Joe Wood, his brother and two of the respondents here, Hamilton and Pickens, went to the scene of the fourth game, looked it over, plan their strategy and according to the evidence there was some discussion on how the proceeds would be split.

On that night of the game, there were four people in the room when the game began, Robert Wood, Joe Wood, Mr. Douglas, and an individual, by the name Tommy Thomas, who said to be a mutual acquaintance of Douglas and Robert Wood.

About 9 o'clock of that evening, Joe Wood began to unfold the robbery plan.

He got up and said he was going to the store to buy some beer.

He went outside and he met with the three respondents.

They did go to the store.

They did buy some beer but apparently they station their cars some place suitable to their plan.

And they approach the apartment together and Mr. Douglas became suspicious.

He heard noise outside.

He armed himself with a shotgun.

Now Joe Wood removed the three respondents from right outside the door of the apartment.

Before Douglas could see him and he was allowed to crawl backed into the apartment while being watched with Douglas who was on with a shotgun.

Once Joe Wood was back inside, the game continued.

The three respondents were outside.

Joe Wood then, short time later telling the people inside that he had to use the bathroom, entered the bathroom of the apartment and came out armed with a gun.