Thigpen v. Roberts

PETITIONER: Thigpen
RESPONDENT: Roberts
LOCATION: Board of Immigration Appeals

DOCKET NO.: 82-1330
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 468 US 27 (1984)
ARGUED: Apr 23, 1984
DECIDED: Jun 27, 1984

ADVOCATES:
Rhesa H. Barksdale - as amicus curiae in support of judgment below
William S. Boyd, III - on behalf of the petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Thigpen v. Roberts

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 23, 1984 in Thigpen v. Roberts

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Thigpen against Roberts.

Mr. Boyd, I think you may proceed when you are ready.

William S. Boyd, III:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, the ultimate question which we are here about today is to resolve whether the respondent was denied his rights under the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment when he was indicted, tried, and convicted of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

Our discussion this morning will focus on three principal areas.

The first is the appropriate federal or constitutional standard to be applied in this case.

Two, that with the exception of the denial of post-conviction relief herein, which was without opinion, the Mississippi Supreme Court has never addressed the question of whether reckless driving is a lesser included offense of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

And three, that both the District Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has misconstrued the law of the state of Mississippi when they held that reckless driving was a lesser included offense.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Mr. Boyd, may I ask about the law of Mississippi?

When did this death occur in relation to the time of the accident?

William S. Boyd, III:

The death occurred instantaneously with the accident.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Instantaneously?

William S. Boyd, III:

Yes, sir.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, in that circumstance under Mississippi law could the state have tried both the misdemeanor and the felony charges in one proceeding?

William S. Boyd, III:

No, sir.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

They could not?

William S. Boyd, III:

No, sir.

Let me qualify that with this.

It was initially done that way or was later done that way in this case, that the justice courts of the state of Mississippi in which they were at the time of this case, five per county, one for each supervisor's beat, that the misdemeanor charges, they have primary jurisdiction of misdemeanor charges.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, was there any Mississippi statute that required the trial of those charges, the misdemeanor charges, in the justice of the peace court independently of any other court?

William S. Boyd, III:

None that would require it.

However, as I pointed out in the reply to the brief of amicus in this matter, that in Stenson v. State, which has been recently decided by our Supreme Court, they have held that it was a... that the conviction was reversible where the individual was indicted in a multi-count indictment.

In other words, we cannot charge more than one charge per indictment, nor can we try under Stenson more than one charge per case unless it is with the agreement of the parties, which was done so in this case on appeal from the misdemeanor.

So, unlike the federal government, or unlike the federal procedure under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, we do not have a requirement that all of the charges be contained in one indictment, but instead it is just the opposite, the old common law rule that they have to be brought by separate indictment.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Are the misdemeanor offenses charged by indictment in Mississippi?

William S. Boyd, III:

No, ma'am.

They are charged by affidavit.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

It is just a traffic citation?

Is that it?

William S. Boyd, III:

Yes, ma'am, that's exactly--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

By the policeman?