Triplett v. Iowa

LOCATION: Hazlehurst Manufacturing Company

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 357 US 217 (1958)
ARGUED: May 21, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 16, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Triplett v. Iowa

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 21, 1958 in Triplett v. Iowa

Earl Warren:

-- 47, Ernest Triplett, Petitioner, versus the State of Iowa.

Mr. Tacy.

Thomas O. Tacy:

Chief Justice Warren, Honorable Justices of this Court, may it please the Court.

This seemed to the petitioner to be a case where in the factual situation is infinitely more important than the legal situation.

In other words, the petitioner does not propose to spend a great deal of time on the legal questions involved here unless something new is raised by the respondent concerning the law.

I think it's conceded by both sides that this Court has the right in certiorari to review de novo the entire proceedings in a state court in a criminal case and to determine and make an independent determination as to whether the Fourteenth Amendment has been violated in due process of law, denied to the accused.

The -- without going to an extended argument now about the law, the recent decisions and the past decisions going back many years indicate that there should be no question about this proposition.

And now, to the facts of this case.

On August 31st, 1954, a little boy by the name of Jimmy Bremmers disappeared from his home, Sioux City, Iowa.

And about 29 days later, his body was found after extended search in a pasture about 6 miles from Sioux City out on a winding country road.

It happened at this time that Mr. Ernest Triplett who is the petitioner in this case was soliciting music lessons from parents in the vicinity where Jimmy Bremmers lived on the night he disappeared and on other occasions.

Now, a neighbor out in that vicinity called the Police Department in Sioux City and said there was a music salesman out here soliciting music lessons the night Jimmy disappeared.

And on that suspicion alone, Ernest Triplett was requested or his employer was requested to have Mr. Triplett wait for the police because they want to question him.

Now, this request for Mr. Triplett to wait at his employer's office, the Flood Music Company in Sioux City for the police came in about 9:30.

Mr. Flood testified as he didn't appear nervous at all.

He said, “Yes, I'll wait for them.”

He waited for them until 1:30 in the afternoon, went out and got his lunch and came back.

And then about 1:30 in the afternoon, they came to get him.

And Detective Dennison and Matousec, Sioux City Police, took him into custody where as the record shows here, he was detained without a warrant for a total of 20 or 21 days by the police and that interval of detention was interrupted twice by sending him down to the state hospital for mental treatment at Cherokee, Iowa near Sioux City.

Now, the first instance he was sent down there by the request, he says detective -- one of the detectives in Sioux City and that was on September 15th, 1954.

Does the record show whether he had any prior medical history before this?

Thomas O. Tacy:

He had none and no record of any felonies.

His record was clear as to any felony or any mental trouble.

Then after he --

Hugo L. Black:

Why do you say it is felony?

Thomas O. Tacy:

What is it?

Hugo L. Black:

Do you emphasize felony?

Thomas O. Tacy:

Well, I say that but no record of any -- of any --

Hugo L. Black:

You mean any crime or offense or --

Thomas O. Tacy:

Oh, I -- I believe --