FRAZIER v. CUPP. No. 643.
394 U.S. 731 (1969)
FRAZIER v. CUPP, WARDEN.
Supreme Court of United States.
Decided April 22, 1969.
Arlen Specter argued the cause for respondent. On the brief were Robert Y. Thornton, Attorney General of Oregon, and David H. Blunt, Assistant Attorney General.
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner was convicted in an Oregon state court of second-degree murder in connection with the September 22, 1964, slaying of one Russell Anton Marleau. After the Supreme Court of Oregon had affirmed his conviction,
Petitioner's first argument centers on certain allegedly prejudicial remarks made during the prosecutor's opening statement. Petitioner had been indicted jointly with his cousin, Jerry Lee Rawls, who pleaded guilty to the same offense. Prior to petitioner's trial, petitioner's defense counsel told the prosecutor that Rawls would invoke his privilege against self-incrimination if he were called to the stand; defense counsel warned the prosecutor not to rely in his opening statement upon Rawls' expected testimony. The prosecutor replied that he would act on the basis of "all of the information I have concerning [Rawls'] testimony." Before trial, he consulted with a police officer who had spoken to Rawls and with Rawls' probation officer; each indicated his belief that Rawls would testify. Similar information came, through a sheriff's report, from some of Rawls' close relatives. Because of these reports, the prosecutor concluded that Rawls would testify if asked to do so. The court below felt that the prosecutor also relied on the fact that Rawls had pleaded guilty and was awaiting sentence. This would give him reason, the court felt, to cooperate with the prosecutor.
In any case, after the trial began the prosecutor included in his opening statement a summary of the testimony he expected to receive from Rawls. The summary was not emphasized in any particular way; it took only a few minutes to recite and was sandwiched between a summary of petitioner's own confession and a description of the circumstantial evidence the State would introduce.
Petitioner argues that this series of events placed the substance of Rawls' statement before the jury in a way that "may well have been the equivalent in the jury's mind of testimony," Douglas v. Alabama,
First of all, it is clear that this case is quite different from either Douglas or Bruton. In Douglas, the prosecutor called the defendant's coconspirator to the stand and read his alleged confession to him; the coconspirator was required to assert his privilege against self-incrimination repeatedly as the prosecutor asked him to confirm or deny each statement. The Court found that this procedure placed powerfully incriminating evidence before the jury in a manner which effectively denied the right of cross-examination. Here, Rawls was on the stand for a very short time and only a paraphrase of the statement was placed before the jury. This was done not during the trial, while the person making the statement was on the stand, but in an opening statement. In addition, the jury was told that the opening statement should not be considered as evidence. Certainly the impact of the procedure used here was much less damaging than was the case in Douglas. And unlike the situation in Bruton, the jury was not being asked to perform the mental gymnastics of considering an incriminating statement against only one of two defendants in a joint trial. Moreover, unlike the situation in either Douglas or Bruton, Rawls' statement was not a vitally important part of the prosecution's case.
We believe that in these circumstances the limiting instructions given were sufficient to protect petitioner's constitutional rights.
The Court of Appeals seemed to feel that this aspect of the case turned on whether or not the prosecutor acted "in a good faith expectation that Rawls would testify." 388 F. 2d, at 780-781. While we do not believe that the prosecutor's good faith, or lack of it, is controlling in determining whether a defendant has been deprived of the right of confrontation guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, we agree with the Court of Appeals' factual determination in this case. The evidence presented in the record is sufficient to support the Oregon Supreme Court's conclusion that "the state could reasonably expect [Rawls] to testify in line with his
Petitioner's second argument concerns the admission into evidence of his own confession. The circumstances under which the confession was obtained can be summarized briefly. Petitioner was arrested about 4:15 p. m. on September 24, 1964. He was taken to headquarters where questioning began at about 5 p. m. The interrogation, which was tape-recorded, ended slightly more than an hour later, and by 6:45 p. m. petitioner had signed a written version of his confession.
After the questioning had begun and after a few routine facts were ascertained, petitioner was questioned briefly about the location of his Marine uniform. He was next asked where he was on the night in question. Although he admitted that he was with his cousin Rawls, he denied being with any third person. Then petitioner was given a somewhat abbreviated description of his constitutional rights. He was told that he could have an attorney if he wanted one and that anything he said could be used against him at trial. Questioning thereafter became somewhat more vigorous, but petitioner continued to deny being with anyone but Rawls. At this point, the officer questioning petitioner told him, falsely, that Rawls had been brought in and that he had confessed. Petitioner still was reluctant to talk, but
Since petitioner was tried after this Court's decision in Escobedo v. Illinois,
We do not believe that Escobedo covers this case. Petitioner's statement about seeing an attorney was neither as clear nor as unambiguous as the request Escobedo made. The police in Escobedo were unmistakably informed of their suspect's wishes; in fact Escobedo's attorney was present and repeatedly requested permission to see his client. Here, on the other hand, it is possible that the questioning officer took petitioner's remark not as a request that the interrogation cease but merely as a passing comment. Petitioner did not pursue the matter, but continued answering questions. In this context, we cannot find the denial of the right to counsel which was found so crucial in Escobedo.
Petitioner also presses the alternative argument that his confession was involuntary and that it should have been excluded for that reason. The trial judge, after an evidentiary hearing during which the tape recording was played, could not agree with this contention, and our reading of the record does not lead us to a contrary conclusion. Before petitioner made any incriminating statements, he received partial warnings of his constitutional rights; this is, of course, a circumstance quite relevant to a finding of voluntariness. Davis v. North Carolina,
Petitioner's final contention can be dismissed rather quickly. He argues that the trial judge erred in permitting some clothing seized from petitioner's duffel bag to be introduced into evidence. This duffel bag was being used jointly by petitioner and his cousin Rawls and it had been left in Rawls' home. The police, while arresting Rawls, asked him if they could have his clothing. They were directed to the duffel bag and both Rawls and his mother consented to its search. During this search, the officers came upon petitioner's clothing and it was seized as well. Since Rawls was a joint user of the bag, he clearly had authority to consent to its search. The officers therefore found evidence against petitioner while in the course of an otherwise lawful search. Under this Court's past decisions, they were clearly permitted to seize it. Harris v. United States,
Because we find none of petitioner's contentions meritorious, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN and MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS concur in the result.
MR. JUSTICE FORTAS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
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