Poland v. Arizona

LOCATION: Court in Ouachita County

DOCKET NO.: 85-5023
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Arizona Supreme Court

CITATION: 476 US 147 (1986)
ARGUED: Feb 24, 1986
DECIDED: May 05, 1986

Gerald R. Grant - on behalf of the respondent
W.K. Wilhelmsen - on behalf of the petitioners, appointed by this Court

Facts of the case


Media for Poland v. Arizona

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 24, 1986 in Poland v. Arizona

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Poland against Arizona and the related case.

Mr. Wilhelmsen, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

W.K. Wilhelmsen:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, for a brief background of the case, the two petitioners are charged and convicted and on death row for murder resulting from the death of two Purolator guards who were delivering some $338,000 cash in northern Arizona.

They left Phoenix.

They disappeared.

The next morning they find the van.

The two guards are gone.

Some $281,000 of the money is gone.

The bodies are subsequently found a month later apparently drowning and/or combination heart attack in the case of Mr. Dempsey.

The bodies are recovered on the Nevada side of Lake Mead in Debbie's Cove.

Those facts are not what we are really talking about today.

We are talking an issue of double jeopardy.

The Polands went to trial.

They were convicted.

Pursuant to our procedure on aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the trial court on the first sentencing proceeding found one aggravating circumstance, especially heinous, cruel and depraved.

He specifically found no on pecuniary gain, but he qualified that answer, and I will get back to that later.

They were sentenced to death.

The court did find certain mitigating circumstances, that they had good character, close family ties, model prisoners, and the court did consider their age.

Automatic appeal under our procedure.

The case is appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

They, in handling the guilt phase of the trial, they find that there has been jury impropriety that is not material here, that they are granted a new trial on the guilt phase.

The Court goes on to discuss the punishment phase, and in discussing the punishment phase, they find that it was not established beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence thus far shows it was especially cruel.

In addition, they also went on to find it has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt that it was especially heinous or depraved.

William H. Rehnquist:

This is the Supreme Court of Arizona, Mr. Wilhelmsen?

W.K. Wilhelmsen:

Yes, Justice Rehnquist.

In their first opinion, Poland I.

In remanding the case for a new trial, they do admonish the trial judge or suggest to him that if the Poland boys are found guilty next time, you may consider pecuniary gain in that the offense was committed in the expectation of or consideration for the receipt of something of value.

William H. Rehnquist:

Well, the trial court had said something about that the first time around.

W.K. Wilhelmsen:


They found like in Mr. Rumsey, Judge Coulter in Rumsey I found... he didn't agree with the law as then interpreted.