MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner was convicted of rape and sentenced to death in the District Court of Montgomery County, Texas. The State's appellate criminal court of last resort affirmed and denied rehearing.
From the first offer of the alleged confession in evidence at the trial, petitioner has challenged the State's right to utilize it, consistently with rights guaranteed him by the Federal Constitution.
The State suggests that there is evidence that petitioner denied ever having made or signed the confession which purported to be signed by his mark. Therefore, it insists
Petitioner is an illiterate farmhand who was engaged, at the time of his arrest, upon a plantation about ten miles from Livingston, Texas. On the day following the crime with which he has been charged, he was called from the field in which he was picking cotton and was taken to the house of the brother-in-law of the prosecutrix, the victim of the crime, where fifteen or sixteen negroes of the vicinity were at the time in custody without warrants or the filing of charges. Taken to the county court house, and thence to the Polk County jail, petitioner was kept there six or seven days. According to his testimony, armed Texas Rangers on several successive nights took him handcuffed from the jail "up in the woods somewhere," whipped him, asked him each time about a confession and warned him not to speak to any one about the nightly trips to the woods. During the period of his arrest up to and including the signing of the alleged confession, petitioner had no lawyer, no charges were filed against him and he was out of touch with friends or relatives.
There were denials that petitioner was ever physically mistreated or abused. But the Rangers and a local peace officer, identified by petitioner as the officers who took
Before carrying petitioner to Beaumont, where the alleged confession was taken, the Sheriff talked about an hour and a half with him. The Rangers who had been taking petitioner to the woods at night knew the county attorney was going to Beaumont to get a statement; they, too, went there and were in and out of the eighth floor room of the jail in Beaumont, with the elevator locked, where petitioner was interrogated from approximately 11:00 P.M. to 3:00 or 3:30 A.M. The alleged confession was reduced to writing after 2 A.M. Immediately before it was taken down, the prisoner was repeatedly asked by the private prosecutor whether he was ready to confess. Petitioner then began to cry, and the typing of the confession, upon which the State's case substantially rested, was completed by the county attorney about daylight. Two citizens of Beaumont signed it as witnesses.
"Due process of law, preserved for all by our Constitution, commands that no such practice as that disclosed by this record shall send any accused to his death."
The State's petition for rehearing is