Taylor v. Alabama

LOCATION: Minnesota State Capitol Building

DOCKET NO.: 81-5152
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Alabama

CITATION: 457 US 687 (1982)
ARGUED: Mar 23, 1982
DECIDED: Jun 23, 1982

Robert M. Beno - on behalf of the Petitioner
Thomas R. Allison - on behalf of Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Taylor v. Alabama

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 23, 1982 in Taylor v. Alabama

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Taylor v. Alabama.

Mr. Beno, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Robert M. Beno:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please this honorable Court:

This case comes out of the State of Alabama in reference to an arrest made on January 4, 1979.

Now, the background, which I think is very important in all criminal cases, especially when the Fourth Amendment is involved, of the facts and circumstances applicable to the record generally turn... make the case turn one way or the other.

Now, there was a robbery, without question, on the 2nd day of December, 1978.

Subsequent to that time, in the middle days of December a Charles Martin was arrested in reference to a completely different and separate rape and robbery, and he was in the county... or in the city jail in Montgomery, Alabama.

Do you acknowledge that whoever committed the robbery at the supermarket that you have just described left some fingerprints there?

Robert M. Beno:

There's no argument to that effect, Your Honor.

In fact, one issue here is whether or not... there are several... how many people were involved in the robbery.


Well, today we're only really concerned about one of them, aren't we.

Robert M. Beno:

--The fingerprints and the confession, right.

And at the trial we didn't argue and did not move to suppress the fingerprints taken from the hotdogs and the package of sugar.

That's not at issue here.

The point here today is whether or not, first of all, there was an illegal arrest.

That's a critical issue, because if there's no illegal arrest there's no need to be in front of the Court today.

We have a situation where Mr. Martin said to the police officer, Mr. Mobley... I think if you'll refer to the record at page 7 of the record, his statement to the court was that he had heard... that's not in the appendix, that's in the record... he had heard.

At which time I moved or I objected, and there was a discussion in front of the court and in front of the officer, and during that discussion the judge came to the conclusion and stated that, well, I think that this, what he heard from someone else, if it cannot be substantiated, certainly cannot be grounds to base a credibility upon which an arrest can follow.

Well, if you'll notice, on page 15... no, on page 13 of the record, after this discussion is over we come back and we ask Mr. Mobley another question, and now he says:

"Well, I don't know where he got it. "

"I don't know where he got it. "

This certainly... the element of credibility is involved here.

Once in front of the court and the court has said that, well, just hearing this is not sufficient, it appears that his testimony changes.

I think that's critical, because credibility is very important when this court decides this case.

At any rate--

May I interrupt you for just a second?

The question presented that you framed in your brief is whether or not a confession taken from Petitioner following a warrantless arrest based on less than probable cause.

Robert M. Beno:

--That's correct.

And so you... for purposes of our consideration of the case, do we assume there was less than probable cause?