Rideau v. Louisiana

LOCATION: Beaumont Mills

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 373 US 723 (1963)
ARGUED: Apr 29, 1963
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Rideau v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 29, 1963 in Rideau v. Louisiana

Earl Warren:

Number 630, Wilbert Rideau, Petitioner, versus Louisiana.

Mr. Sievert.

Fred H. Sievert, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

If on February 17, 1961, you are in the City of Lake Charles or the surrounding areas, in the late afternoon and you had your TV set on, you saw something which probably you had never seen before and probably may never see again.

We saw a 19-year old colored boy in the custody of the Sheriff of Calcasieu Parish confessing by sound and by this picture to the commission of three heinous crimes: murder, aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery.

That young colored boy is the petitioner before Your Honors.

The day before in Lake Charles in the late evening, a bank was robbed, three tellers kidnapped and taken out of town, shot, and one of them murdered with a knife.

The petitioner was picked up two or three hours later, he then thereafter made oral admissions, a written confession and the following morning, in the Sheriff's office, this boy who had up to that time had been without counsel, without friends, without anyone to lean on, was made the participant as well as the record shows without his knowledge of what was happening in this movie, at which time a sound track was made by the local and only television station in Lake Charles.

And that film which lasted for 20 minutes wherein this petitioner confessed to the commission of these crimes which shown on the 17th to approximately 24,000 people, was shown on February 18, the following day to approximately 53,000 people and was shown on February the 19th to approximately 29,000 people.

Does the record show whether the film was made at the procurement, the instigation of the public authorities?

Fred H. Sievert, Jr.:

If the Court please, the record doesn't show specifically.

We think, if the Court please, that the result, the prejudice that resulted is the same.

We have no proof --


I realized that, but what I was wondering was, is this an instance of imaginative newspaperman doing this or is it a more sinister thing of the district attorney or the police contriving it?

Fred H. Sievert, Jr.:

Your Honor, I have no proof to the matter.

I think it was a -- it was a very hot news item.

I think everybody became overexuberant perhaps about the quick capture and that sort of thing.

But I think that the phrases that resulted was nevertheless (Inaudible).

Yes, I understand that.

Byron R. White:

Does the record show that he did or did not know about the -- the television, the movie made?

Fred H. Sievert, Jr.:

It doesn't show either way.

As far as the record is concerned, he was sitting --

Byron R. White:


Fred H. Sievert, Jr.:

Well, as far as I remember, the film, it is in evidence, I think the film which show the equipment by whether or not this boy who I think was an 8th grade and knew what sound equipment was and whether this was merely part of police routine which he was not familiar with or not, of course I don't know.

The record doesn't show, if the Court please, that he voluntarily submitted to this or that he knew what was happening or that he gave them authority or okay, they're convicting him in the eyes of the public before he was even arraigned.

Byron R. White:

But it didn't showed he was -- that it practically showed that he was aware (Inaudible)

Fred H. Sievert, Jr.:

No, Your Honor, it doesn't.

Earl Warren:

Where did this television take place?

Fred H. Sievert, Jr.:

It was in the Sheriff's office, Mr. Chief Justice.