Withrow v. Williams

LOCATION:Eastern District Court of Michigan

DOCKET NO.: 91-1030
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 507 US 680 (1993)
ARGUED: Nov 03, 1992
DECIDED: Apr 21, 1993

John G. Roberts, Jr. – for U.S. as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner
Jeffrey Caminsky – on behalf of the Petitioner
Seth P. Waxman – on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

During his murder case, Robert Williams argued that statements he had made to police should be excluded. Some of those statements had been made before he was given his Miranda warnings and others, while made after the Miranda warnings had been given, were the direct product of those earlier, un- Mirandized statements and should also be excluded, he argued. The state trial court (and subsequently the appeals court) disagreed, and Williams was convicted.

Williams filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal District Court, arguing only that the claims made before the Miranda warnings were given should have been excluded. The court agreed but went further, ruling that the statements madeafter the Miranda warnings were inadmissible as well because they were the products of the earlier, un-Mirandized statements. On appeal, the state argued that the Supreme Court’s decision inStone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, which barred federal habeas corpus review of Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure claims when the state had already given defendants a fair chance to raise such claims in state court, should also apply to questions regarding Fifth Amendment claims stemming from a failure to give Miranda warnings in a timely manner. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s grant of the petition, however, rejecting the state’s argument.


Does the Supreme Court’s ruling inStone v. Powell that federal habeas corpus review does not cover Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure claims when defendants have already been given a fair chance to argue those claims in state court also apply to Fifth Amendment claims stemming from the withholding of Miranda warnings?

Media for Withrow v. Williams

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 03, 1992 in Withrow v. Williams

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 21, 1993 in Withrow v. Williams

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 91-1030, Withrow against Williams will be announced by Justice Souter.

David H. Souter:

This case comes to us on writ of certiorari in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The respondent, Williams, brought this habeas actions challenging the legality of the state convictions for murder and other offenses.

Williams alleged that the State Court had erred in allowing the introduction of statements solicited from him by the police in violation of his right in the Miranda v. Arizona.

The District Court agreed and granted relief.

The Court of Appeals affirmed.

The Court of Appeals rejected the state’s argument that federal habeas review of Williams’ Miranda claim should be barred under the rule in Stone and Powell, which holds that federal habeas review of Fourth Amendment claims is not available when a state has given a full and fair chance to litigate such claims.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk of the Court today we affirm and hold at Stone’s restriction on the exercise of federal habeas jurisdiction does not extend to Miranda claims.

The equitable considerations that formed the basis for a decision in Stone do not obtain here.

Most importantly, eliminating review of Miranda claims would not significantly benefit the Federal Courts in their exercise of habeas jurisdiction or advanced the cause of federalism in any substantial way.

Justice O’Connor has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which the Chief Justice joins; Justice Scalia has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part which Justice Thomas joins.