Walton v. California

PETITIONER: Marvin Stuart Walton
RESPONDENT: California
LOCATION: Pittsburgh Party Headquarters

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 350 US 868 (1955)
ARGUED: Oct 17, 1955
DECIDED: Oct 24, 1955

Facts of the case


Media for Walton v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 17, 1955 (Part 2) in Walton v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 17, 1955 (Part 1) in Walton v. California

Earl Warren:

Number 16 on the docket.

Marvin -- Marvin Stuart Walton, Petitioner, versus the People of the State of California.

Robert F. Peckham:

Your Honors, this case arises from a criminal prosecution for driving under the influence of liquor where blood was extracted by the police to determine the alcoholic content.

The defendant was found guilty by a jury in his second trial where he was permitted a trial by jury and then petitioned to the appellate department of the Superior Court of the State Of California being the court of the last resort under the laws of California in misdemeanor prosecutions.

The appellate department affirms the conviction and having no further remedy, a petition for certiorari was filed and granted by this Court.

The issue presented by this case Your Honors is whether the involuntary extraction of petitioner's blood by the state police to determine sobriety and the use of the results of such a blood test as evidence against the petitioner are a violation of the Due Process Clause.

The privilege against unreasonable search and seizures or -- and the privilege against self-incrimination.

A further issue has been raised in respondent's brief and that is does the allocation of the preliminary questions of fact between the judge and jury violates the due process.

Now the facts of this case briefly are these.

John M. Harlan:

Mr. Peckham, is there a California statute that provides for a blood test?

Robert F. Peckham:

There is not Your Honor.

The petitioner left a restaurant -- long left shortly before 10 p.m. on a Friday evening in his sports automobile and drove across the southbound lane of the El Camino Real, a highway and into the northbound lane, the State Highway patrol car was following the -- along and noted that the petitioner was speeding according to the officers' testimony and stopped the petitioner.

The officers testified that he had accelerated his automobile to a speed of 60 or 65 miles per hour.The petitioner testified that he was traveling approximately 40 miles an hour.

After stopping him and witnessing him walk, the officers took him to San Jose approximately 18 miles away to the Accident Prevention Bureau and there he was asked to perform certain balance and coordination tests which he declined to do.

He also was asked certain questions on a form provided by the District Attorney's Office for interrogation by officers of suspected drunk drivers and he declined to answer those questions with the words “No comment.”

The officer and the technician and the petitioner all testify as to those facts in substance.

Now, the officer testified that he had declined to take the blood test several times when that was requested of him.

The technician testified that he had declined to take the test at least two times.

The petitioner testified that he continued to refuse to submit to the blood test and that he expressed a protest to it at the time that it was taken from him against his will.

The officer of the State Highway Patrol testified that the time of taking the blood test, that the petitioner requested that a doctor or a lawyer -- that he be permitted to consult a doctor or a lawyer.

And the officer testified that this was refused him.

The officers testified, however, that he did express after refusing these number of times that he did say, well then go ahead and take it.

The petitioner however has testified that he never did consent to it and continued to protest.

John M. Harlan:


Robert F. Peckham:

The petitioner testified that he was not manhandled or mauled.

The petitioner testified that the officer held his arm and the technician inserted the needle to remove the blood and the technician testified that he did not remember anyone holding the petitioner's arm but of course, he did inject the needle into his veins.

Harold Burton:

There's no objection on the basis of pain or suffering or torture, any of that kind?

Robert F. Peckham:

No, Your Honor.

Have you a reference to the place that he requested a counsel or is it (Inaudible)

Robert F. Peckham:

Yes, Your Honor.