United States v. Hale

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Location of alleged robbery

DOCKET NO.: 74-364
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 422 US 171 (1975)
ARGUED: Apr 14, 1975
DECIDED: Jun 23, 1975

Mr. Andrew L. Frey - for petitioner
Larry J. Ritchie - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Hale

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 14, 1975 in United States v. Hale

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 23, 1975 in United States v. Hale

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 74-364, United States against will be announced by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall:

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Government sought reinstatement of respondent's conviction for robbery on the ground that since respondent chose to testify in his own behalf that it was permissible to impeach his credibility by providing that he had chosen to remain silent at the time of his arrest.

In an opinion filed today with the clerk, we hold that the respondent's silence during police interrogation lack significant probative value and under these circumstances, any reference to his silence carried with it an intolerably prejudicial impact.

Looking through the circumstances of this case, we hold that the fault -- failure of respondent who had just been given Miranda warnings to respond during custodial interrogation to inquiry about money in his possession can as easily connote reliance on the right to remain silent as to support an inference that his trial testimony was a later fabrication.

Additionally, we find no indication that the respondent's prior silence was so clearly inconsistent with his trial testimony as to warrant admission into evidence of his silence as a prior inconsistent statement.

In view of the strong potential for prejudice from admission of the evidence, a mistrial should have been granted.

Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

The Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Douglas, and Mr. Justice White have filed separate opinions concurring in the judgment.

And Mr. Justice Blackmun has concurred in the result.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Marshall.