Reck v. Pate

LOCATION: Eagle Coffee Shoppe

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 367 US 433 (1961)
ARGUED: Apr 19, 1961
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Reck v. Pate

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 19, 1961 (Part 2) in Reck v. Pate

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 19, 1961 (Part 1) in Reck v. Pate

Earl Warren:

Number 181, Emil Reck, Petitioner, versus Frank J. Pate, Warden.

Mr. Moore.

Donald Page Moore:

Mr. Chief Justice, may I have please the Court.

This case is here on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals or the Seventh Circuit.

That court affirmed an order of the United States District Court to the Northern District of Illinois, quashing a writ of habeas corpus and remanding the petitioner here to the custody of Warden of the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet, Illinois, where petitioner was then and is now confined.

Petitioner is confined in the State Penitentiary, pursuant to a judgment of conviction of the crime of murder, which was imposed upon him after a trial before a judge and jury in the Criminal Court of Cook County in 1936.

At his trial, petitioner contested the admissibility of two confessions which were introduced into evidence against him.

Timely motion was made to suppress these confessions invoking with Federal Constitution.

It was overruled.

The confessions were received in evidence.

Petitioner was convicted and sentenced to 199 years in the penitentiary.

Petitioner was unable to appeal his conviction because he had no money to purchase a transcript of the testimony at his murder trial.

Thereafter, when the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act was adopted following this Court's decision in Marino against Ragen, petitioner filed a petition for a post-conviction hearing under that Act, received a hearing, additional testimony was taken, some transcripts where then written up at state expense.

After hearing the post-conviction judge denied relief.

I might add that in the post-conviction hearing the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was explicitly invoked as a ground for the petitioner's prayer that his conviction be set aside, because coerced confession were used against him.

On writ of error proceedings in the Supreme Court of Illinois, full hearing was -- had briefs and arguments.

All of the federal constitutional claims, which are now here, were raised there.

Relief was denied on the merits of the federal constitutional question.

There was then a petition for certiorari timely filed in this Court.

The petition was denied and the order of denial read that the petition for certiorari is denied without prejudice to the right of petitioner to apply for a writ of habeas corpus in an appropriate U.S. District Court.

The petition for habeas corpus in the Northern District of Illinois followed.

The district judge received into evidence all of the transcripts of the state court proceedings in the post-conviction hearing case and in the original murder trial.

Both sides rested.

The district judge ultimately decided that by the present day standards announced by this Court in such cases as Watts against Indiana, Haley against Ohio, Chambers against Florida, petitioner's confessions were obtained in a manner which violated due process, but since none of those cases were on the books in 1936, the rules of those cases were not applicable to petitioner's case and petitioner was remanded to the custody of the Warden.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals ignored the District Court's theory.

It held that by any standards, the confessions were voluntary and affirmed.

This Court granted the petition for certiorari on June 27th of 1960, gave us leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

We have no printed record, but our proceeding upon the original papers pursuant to the instructions of the clerk of this Court.

The facts --

Felix Frankfurter:

Mr. Moore, may I cover you to state however briefly but -- but adequately, on the basis of what material -- what materials were before the district judge, on the basis of which he concluded what he did and therefore that was the only basis on which the Court of Appeals acted, I take it.