Simmons v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 390 US 377 (1968)
ARGUED: Jan 15, 1968
DECIDED: Mar 18, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for Simmons v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 15, 1968 in Simmons v. United States

Earl Warren:

Thomas Earl Simmons et al., Petitioners, versus United States.

Mr. Smith.

Raymond J. Smith:

Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court, may it please the Court.

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

The petitioners, Garrett and Simmons and a defendant Andrews were convicted after a jury trial on the charges of bank robbery with a dangerous weapon.

All three men were sentenced to the custody of the attorney general for a period of three -- of 10 years.

Now, on appeal, the United States Court of Appeals reversed the decision in Andrews on the ground of insufficiency of the evidence.

The first issue raised by the petitioner, Simmons here is that his pre-trial identifications were so unnecessarily suggestive and conducive to irreparable mistaken identity that he was deprived of due process of law.

On February 27th, 1964, two men robbed the Ben Franklin Savings and Loan Association in Chicago.

The two men were in the bank about five minutes.

This occurred about 1:45 PM.

The two men fled and took $1500 with them.

A Mr. Misaika, who was one of the bank tellers left the bank and followed the two men and saw them drive away in a white 1960 Thunderbird.

This car had a scrape, a large scrape along the door on the passenger's side.

As soon as the police arrived, they made a general search of the area to find this car described by Mr. Misaika.

At 2:30 PM, this search led to a white Thunderbird owned by Mary Ruth Rey who was a sister of the defendant, Andrews and the sister-in-law of the petitioner, Simmons.

At 3 o'clock, six men entered the home of the mother of Andrews, searched but didn't take anything.

At five o'clock that same day, the Federal Bureau of Investigation entered Andrews' mother's home looking for Andrews and Simmons.

They did not find them but they did find two suitcases.

One of which contained some bank money wrappers and other incriminating evidence.

The next day, the FBI went to the home of Simmons' -- another of Simmons' sister-in-law and another sister of the defendant Andrews and obtained four or five pictures of Simmons and Andrews.

Now, it is clear then, that same day they took these pictures to be viewed by the members of the bank that had witnessed the robbery.

It is clear then that at the time that these pictures were shown to the witnesses, the FBI had two definite suspects in mind, Simmons and Andrews.

It is also clear that the witnesses were aware that the FBI was close to a solution of the identity of the bank robbers because Mr. Misaika had seen this white Thunderbird.

He had also seen that car later in the day in the custody of the FBI.

So he knew that the car used in the bank robbery had been taken into custody.

And he had talked over the facts and circumstances of the bank robbery with the other members of the bank, the tellers who were to be the witnesses.

A Mrs.Parlimen also said that she was aware that the 1960 white Thunderbird had been used by the bank robbers and she hadn't talked to Mr. Misaika but had talked to some of the other bank tellers so that it was common knowledge among the tellers that the police were close to apprehending the bank robbers.

Now, under those circumstances, number one, the FBI having two definite suspects in mind and number two, the bank teller witnesses being aware that the FBI was in hot pursuit of the bank robbers, these pictures were shown the very next day after the robbery to the tellers.

Now, there are two aspects to the showing of the pictures.