Turner v. Louisiana

LOCATION: Heart of Atlanta Motel

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 379 US 466 (1965)
ARGUED: Nov 19, 1964
DECIDED: Jan 18, 1965

Facts of the case


Media for Turner v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 19, 1964 in Turner v. Louisiana

Earl Warren:

Number 53, Wayne Turner, Petitioner, versus Louisiana.

Mr. Pierson.

Allen B.Pierson, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice Warren, and members of the Court.

The facts surrounding this case are painfully clear and simple.

It involves a felony murder case from the State of Louisiana.

The murder occurred during the commission of an armed robbery on October 7, 1960.

The facts are that the accused below, Wayne Turner, arrived at Hammond, Louisiana, hungry and broke.

During the armed robbery of a Phillips 66 Service Station, the attendant at the station drew a 38 caliber revolver from his pocket and began shooting.

Turner shot back and of course the attendant was killed almost instantly.

Turner and his wife both confessed to the murder the following day.

Both were indicted.

The wife was allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter and is now out on probation.

The trial of Wayne Turner lasted three days in the 21st Judicial District Court of the Parish of Tangipahoa, State of Louisiana.

This is the district or trial court in the state.

During these three days, the petty jury consisting of 12 men was in the custody of among other deputies or bailiffs, Deputies Rispone and Chief Criminal Deputy Hulon Simmons.

Now, Deputy Rispone and Deputy Simmons were both witnesses for the prosecution in the trial of this case.

Deputy Rispone testified that he was the first to arrive at the scene of the crime, that he made the official investigation and report.

He further testified that he heard Wayne Turner admit to having committed the crime.

He further testified that Wayne Turner had led him to the site of certain incriminating evidence consisting of a murder weapon and certain identification cards belonging to Turner.

Rispone also testified in connection with establishing the chain of evidence.

Deputy Hulon Simmons testified that he had received the confession which was allegedly free and voluntarily given.

This is a written confession.

In addition, Deputy Simmons testified as to the chain of evidence and as to certain admissions made by Turner of his guilt.

A motion for mistrial and the motion for a new trial were both overruled and this Court after an adverse decision from the State Supreme Court of Louisiana granted certiorari.

Both the motion for mistrial and the motion for a new trial were based basically on the fact that these bailiffs are deputies or chief prosecution witnesses but not only that that during the course of this trial, these witnesses had mingled with, had fraternized with, had become a part of and identified with the petty jury.

In other words that they had conducted themselves in such a way not to shield the jury from outside communication but had actually communicated unnecessarily and visited with the jury unnecessarily themselves.

The basic issue before this Court is we believe one of constitutional importance and that is does the accused in a capital case especially in a capital case have a right to a trial by jury which is untainted with the suspicion of misconduct or must the accused go further and actually proved prejudice or misconduct that these things did happen that the fraternization did take place is on question.

I might point out that the same type of conduct also occurred in another Louisiana case arising out of the same trial court which was tried only months before the Turner case was tried.

That was the case of State versus McAlister which is cited in my brief.

These things did happen.