Taylor v. Kentucky

LOCATION:Allied Structural Steel Company: Industrial Construction Division

DOCKET NO.: 77-5549
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 436 US 478 (1978)
ARGUED: Mar 27, 1978
DECIDED: May 30, 1978

Guy C. Shearer – argued the cause for the respondent
J. Vincent Aprile, II, – argued the cause for the petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Taylor v. Kentucky

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – March 27, 1978 in Taylor v. Kentucky

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – May 30, 1978 in Taylor v. Kentucky

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

Now last case I have is a criminal case, entirely different in subject matter.

In this case, 77-5549, Taylor against Kentucky, petitioner was convicted a robbery in a Kentucky State Court, in a case in which there were only two witnesses, the alleged victim and the petitioner.

The Prosecutor in his opening statement read the indictment to the jury and in his closing statement emphasized petitioner’s status as a defendant, giving rise according to his argument to inferences of guilt.

Petitioner later sought an instruction to the — instruction to the jury that the indictment was not evidence of his guilt.

He also requested an instruction that he was presumed to be innocent.

The court refused to give either of these instructions.

It did, however, correctly instruct, though briefly, on the burden of proof.

Petitioner was found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment.

Appellate courts in Kentucky sustained the conviction.

To assure a verdict based solely on evidence and not on one status of the diffident, the presumption of innocence should be emphasized in instructions to the jury.

Although no particular form of wedge is necessary to assure jury understanding, we conclude in this case, for reasons stated in our opinion filled today with clerk, that petitioner was not given a fair trial.

Accordingly the judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for proceedings not inconsistent with the opinion filed today with the clerk.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filled a concurring statement.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Rehnquist joined.