Thomas v. Arizona

PETITIONER: Thomas
RESPONDENT: Arizona
LOCATION: Philadelphia Board of Public Education

DOCKET NO.: 88
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 356 US 390 (1958)
ARGUED: Mar 04, 1958 / Mar 05, 1958
DECIDED: May 19, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Thomas v. Arizona

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 04, 1958 in Thomas v. Arizona

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 05, 1958 in Thomas v. Arizona

W. Edward Morgan:

-- I think an answer to the question of Mr. Justice Frankfurter yesterday regarding the attitude of the counsel -- the publicity regarding the arrest of the defendant in this case.I think it might be pertinent to remark that counsel at the time, felt it was so flamboyant and tending to bring the defendants into hate in this community that a motion for change of venue was -- was brought by counsel at the time the trial was denied.

The -- I think it should be pointed out also in addition to the confessions that the arrest took place on March 17th and the last confession obtained from the defendant was on April 1st, which was in the -- while the defendant was still in the Cochise County jail at Bisbee, and that this confession was also ruled by the trial judge as being inadmissible -- as being involuntary by reason of the original incidents of his arrest and this was a considerable time.

In a connection with the --

Felix Frankfurter:

May I -- may I stop --

W. Edward Morgan:

Excuse me, sir.

Felix Frankfurter:

-- you long enough to -- have you elucidate this last statement, were those -- you said they were excluded because of the incidents connected with the time of his arrest.

W. Edward Morgan:

Yes.

Felix Frankfurter:

I don't quite understand that.

W. Edward Morgan:

The -- the roping --

Felix Frankfurter:

Well --

W. Edward Morgan:

-- if the Court please.

Felix Frankfurter:

-- if later confessions -- these were later, were they not?

W. Edward Morgan:

Yes.

Felix Frankfurter:

If later confessions were excluded by the trial court because of the continuing, disturbing, undermining influence of the incident at the time of his arrest, how did he differentiate admitting to the judge orally, which was earlier in time than the confessions which he excluded?

W. Edward Morgan:

His distinction set forth in his -- we ask the trial judge that a direct question, we ask him why he did this.

He said I -- if counsel wants to know the answer, the answer is that I feel that he was in the -- he was in the courtroom and he was in the presence of the -- of the man who had saved him, that is the Sheriff Jack Howard who had saved him from this -- from the posse.

There is, I think, maybe a more fundamental reason and that is that the trial judge did not have the testimony of the state highway patrolman Harry Selchow at the time he made his ruling on the -- at the time of the ancillary hearing.

The -- that testimony of the state --

Felix Frankfurter:

Ancillary hearing was a hearing --

W. Edward Morgan:

Outside of the (Voice Overlap) --

Felix Frankfurter:

-- in the (Voice Overlap) --

W. Edward Morgan:

-- of the -- of the jury.

Felix Frankfurter:

Yes.

But wasn't the matter again put before the jury?

W. Edward Morgan:

Yes, it was.

And at that time, for the first time, who was given the testimony of the state highway patrolman Harry Selchow.

We had released the witness Harry Selchow to give testimony in a murder case in Tucson in the federal court upon three hours notice to return.

And in the proceedings aside from the jury, we came to a point very rapidly, very unexpectedly, the judge ruled on the confessions and we didn't have an opportunity to bring back Sergeant Selchow nor did we know what his testimony was going to be.

Felix Frankfurter:

How much time elapsed between the ruling of the court in chambers and the submission of the evidence to the jury?

W. Edward Morgan:

Oh, about two or three days.