Whitmore v. Arkansas


DOCKET NO.: 88-7146
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: Arkansas Supreme Court

CITATION: 495 US 149 (1990)
ARGUED: Jan 10, 1990
DECIDED: Apr 24, 1990

Arthur L. Allen – on behalf of the Petitioner
J. Steven Clark – on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Whitmore v. Arkansas

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 10, 1990 in Whitmore v. Arkansas

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 24, 1990 in Whitmore v. Arkansas

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce in Whitmore against Arkansas.

The petitioner in this case, Jonas Whitmore, sought to intervene in a proceeding in the Supreme Court of Arkansas to challenge the murder convictions and death sentence of another man, Ronald Gene Simmons.

After Simmons had been tried and sentenced, he declared that he wanted to forego any appellate review.

The Trial Court conducted an evidentiary hearing and it decided that Simmons was competent to waive any rights available to him.

The Supreme Court of Arkansas affirmed that decision.

Whitmore, who was also an inmate on death row, moved to intervene in the State Supreme Court in order to pursue Simmons appeal but the Supreme Court denied his motion.

We granted certiorari to decide whether Whitmore has standing to seek relief in this Court and if so, whether the Eighth Amendment requires Arkansas to carryout an appellate review of Smimons since before going through with the execution.

In an opinion filed today, we hold that Whitmore does not have standing in this Court.

He has not sustained injury in fact sufficient to establish an Article III case or controversy, because any harm to Whitmore caused by Simmons’ failure to appeal is purely speculative, nor we hold that Whitmore have standing to proceed as what is called the “next friend” of Simmons.

Standing in that capacity is not available whereas here, an evidentiary hearing shows that the defendant has given a knowing, intelligent, involuntary waiver of his right to proceed and has access to court as otherwise impaired.

The writ of certiorari is therefore dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Brennan has joined.