MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
On the night of January 2, 1936, Dr. Silber C. Peacock, a Chicago physician, left his Edgewater Beach apartment in response to an emergency telephone call to attend a sick child. He never returned. The next day his lifeless body was found in his automobile on a Chicago street. It was apparent that he had been brutally murdered. On Wednesday, March 25, 1936, the petitioner,
The conviction was affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court, People v. Reck, 392 Ill. 311, 64 N.E.2d 526. Several years later Reck filed a petition under the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, alleging that his confessions had been procured by coercion and that their use as evidence at his trial had, therefore, violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Reck then filed a petition for habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The writ issued, and at the hearing the District Court received in evidence the transcripts of all relevant proceedings in the Illinois courts.
The question whether there has been a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by the introduction of an involuntary confession is one which it is the ultimate responsibility of this Court to determine. See Malinski v. New York, 324 U.S. 401, 404; Thomas v. Arizona, 356 U.S. 390, 393; Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 51-52. After thoroughly reviewing the record in this case, we are satisfied that the district judge's summary of the undisputed facts is accurate and complete. Neither in brief nor oral argument did the respondent take issue with these findings. No useful purpose would be served by attempting to paraphrase the district judge's words:
But it is hardly necessary to state that the question whether a confession was extracted by coercion does not depend simply upon whether the police resorted to the crude tactic of deliberate physical abuse. "[T]he blood of the accused is not the only hallmark of an unconstitutional inquisition." Blackburn v. Alabama, 361 U.S. 199, 206. The question in each case is whether a defendant's will was overborne at the time he confessed. Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227; Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 52, 53; Leyra v. Denno, 347 U.S. 556, 558. If so, the confession cannot be deemed "the product of a rational intellect and a free will," Blackburn, supra, at 208. In resolving the issue all the circumstances attendant upon the confession must be taken into account. See Fikes v. Alabama, 352 U.S. 191, 198; Payne v. Arkansas, 356 U.S. 560, 567. Physical mistreatment is but one such circumstance, albeit a circumstance which by itself weighs heavily. But other circumstances may combine to produce
At the time of his arrest Reck was a nineteen-year-old youth of subnormal intelligence. He had no prior criminal record or experience with the police. He was held nearly eight days without a judicial hearing. Four of those days preceded his first confession. During that period Reck was subjected each day to six- or seven-hour stretches of relentless and incessant interrogation. The questioning was conducted by groups of officers. For the first three days the interrogation ranged over a wide variety of crimes. On the night of the third day of his detention the interrogation turned to the crime for which petitioner stands convicted. During this same four-day period he was shuttled back and forth between police stations and interrogation rooms. In addition, Reck was intermittently placed on public exhibition in "show-ups." On the night before his confession, petitioner became ill while on display in such a "show-up." He was taken to the hospital, returned to the police station and put back on public display. When he again became ill he was removed from the "show-up," but interrogation in the windowless "handball court" continued relentlessly until he grew faint and vomited blood on the floor. Once more he was taken to the hospital, where he spent the night under the influence of drugs. The next morning he was removed from the hospital in a wheel chair, and intensive interrogation was immediately resumed. Some eight hours later Reck signed his first confession. The next afternoon he signed a second.
During the entire period preceding his confessions Reck was without adequate food, without counsel, and without the assistance of family or friends. He was, for all practical purposes, held incommunicado. He was physically
It is true that this case lacks the physical brutality present in Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278, the threat of mob violence apparent in Payne v. Arkansas, 356 U.S. 560, the thirty-six hours of consecutive questioning found in Ashcraft v. Tennessee, 322 U.S. 143, the threats against defendant's family used in Harris v. South Carolina, 338 U.S. 68, or the deception employed in Spano v. New York, 360 U.S. 315, and Leyra v. Denno, 347 U.S. 556. Nor was Reck's mentality apparently so irrational as that of the petitioner in Blackburn v. Alabama, 361 U.S. 199. However, it is equally true that Reck's youth, his subnormal intelligence, and his lack of previous experience with the police make it impossible to equate his powers of resistance to overbearing police tactics with those of the defendants in Stein v. New York, 346 U.S. 156, or Lisenba v. California, 314 U.S. 219.
Although the process of decision in this area, as in most, requires more than a mere color-matching of cases, it is not inappropriate to compare this case with Turner v. Pennsylvania, 338 U.S. 62, where we held a confession inadmissible on a record disclosing circumstances less compelling. Decision in Turner rested basically on three factors: the length of detention, the amount and manner of interrogation, and the fact that Turner had been held incommunicado by the police. Turner had been in custody for four nights and five days before he confessed. He had been questioned intermittently, as much as six hours in a day, sometimes by one, sometimes by several officers. He had been interrogated a total of some twenty-three hours. Reck was held the same length of time, under basically the same circumstances, before his second confession.
It cannot fairly be said on this record that "[t]he inward consciousness of having committed a murder and a robbery and of being confronted with evidence of guilt which [petitioner] could neither deny nor explain seems enough to account for the confessions here." Stein v. New York, 346 U.S. 156, 185. It is true that, as in Stein, Reck did not confess until confronted with the incriminating statements of his companions. But beyond this the circumstances in Stein bear little resemblance to those involved in this case. The defendants in Stein were questioned a total of twelve hours during a thirty-two-hour detention. Part of that time was spent working out a "bargain" with police officers. Neither defendant was "young, soft, ignorant or timid." Stein, supra, at 185. Nor were they "inexperienced in the ways of crime or its detection" or "dumb as to their rights." Id., at 186. By contrast, Reck was in fact young and ignorant. He was in fact inexperienced in the ways of crime and its detection. Moreover, he was subjected to pressures much greater than were the defendants in Stein. He was held incommunicado and questioned over a much longer period. He was physically ill during much of that time, in pain, and weakened by lack of food. Confrontation with the confessions of his companions in these circumstances could
The State has made no effort to distinguish between the Saturday and Sunday confessions. Nor could it properly do so. The coercive circumstances preceding the first confession existed through Sunday. Reck remained in police custody, without a judicial hearing. He was subjected to further interrogation. He did not see counsel, family or friends between Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. There are no other facts in the record suggesting that the Sunday confession was an act independent of the confession extracted on Saturday. Both confessions are subject to the same infirmities. Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment neither was admissible at Reck's trial.
The petitioner's detention is in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and he is therefore entitled to be released. The judgments of the Court of Appeals and the District Court are vacated and the case remanded to the latter. On remand, the District Court should enter such orders as are appropriate and consistent with this opinion allowing the State a reasonable time in which to retry the petitioner. Cf. Rogers v. Richmond, 365 U.S. 534, 549; Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 729.
Vacated and remanded.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, concurring.
Emil Reck at the age of twelve was classified as a "high grade mental defective"
He was arrested Wednesday morning, March 25, 1936. The next day, March 26, his father went to the police asking where his son was and asking to see him. The police would give him no information. On March 27 his father came to the police station again but was not allowed to see his son. Later the father tried to see his son at the hospital but was denied admission.
The father was denied the right to see his son over and again. The son was held for at least eight full days incommunicado. He was arraigned before a magistrate on April 2, 1936, only after he had confessed.
The late Professor Alexander Kennedy of the University of Edinburgh has put into illuminating words the manner in which long-continued interrogation under conditions of stress can give the interrogator effective command over the prisoner.
The device of "synthetic conflict and tension" is summarized as follows:
Whether the police used this technique on Emil Reck no one knows. We do know from this record that Emil Reck was quite ill during his detention. He was so ill that he was taken to a hospital incommunicado. He was so ill he passed blood. What actually transpired no one will know. The records coming before us that involve the relations between the police and a prisoner during periods of confinement are extremely unreliable. The word of the police is on the side of orderly procedure, nonoppressive conduct, meticulous regard for the sensibilities of the prisoner. There is the word of the accused against the police. But his voice has little persuasion.
We do know that long detention, while the prisoner is shut off from the outside world, is a recurring practice in this country—for those of lowly birth, for those without friends or status.
Television teaches that confessions are the touchstone of law enforcement. Experience however teaches that confessions born of long detention under conditions of stress, confusion, and anxiety are extremely unreliable.
MR. JUSTICE CLARK, whom MR. JUSTICE WHITTAKER joins, dissenting.
Twenty-five years ago a jury found Reck guilty of the savage murder of Dr. Silber C. Peacock. His first attempt to upset that conviction came nine years later when he sought a writ of error to the Supreme Court of Illinois. It was denied by opinion, People v. Reck, 392 Ill. 311, 64 N. E. 526 (1946). This Court denied certiorari. Reck v. Illinois, 331 U.S. 855 (1947). In the same year the Illinois Supreme Court again denied Reck's application
Today—25 years after his conviction—this Court overturns the decision of the original trial judge, the judgment and findings of a state trial judge on post-conviction hearing, the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court of Illinois on that appeal, decisions of both the Supreme Court of Illinois and a federal district judge on separate applications for habeas corpus and, finally, those of a federal district judge and Court of Appeals in this case. All of these courts are overruled on the ground that "a totality of coercive circumstances" surrounded Reck's confession. The Court second-guesses the findings of the trial judge and those of the only other trial court that heard and saw any of the witnesses, both of which courts impartially declared the confession to be entirely voluntary.
The Court has quoted at length and with approval the summary of the evidence by the United States district judge. I quote in the margin the findings of the two state judges who saw the witnesses and heard the evidence,
Although the Court says that it proceeds "upon the premise, as did the District Court, that the officers did not inflict deliberate physical abuse or injury upon Reck," it nonetheless finds the confession to have been coerced. I assume, therefore, that the Court bases its reversal on psychological or mental coercion. In so doing it goes far beyond the holding of any of the prior cases of this Court.
I shall not repeat the facts except to note that Reck was arrested on Wednesday; he was not interrogated concerning Dr. Peacock's murder until Friday, when he immediately became ill, and was hospitalized; later that night all three of his confederates confessed; confronted with them on Saturday—each accusing him of participation in the murder—he confessed. There was no evidence of physical brutality, no request for counsel, nor, unlike Turner v. Pennsylvania, 338 U.S. 62 (1949), for relatives or friends. Nor did he ask for food or make any indication of any desire or need therefor, showing, in the light of the record, nothing more than the lack of interest in food of one who had suffered from stomach ulcers for years. How the Court can now—25 years later—find on this "cold" record that these circumstances amounted to
Since mental coercion is the keystone of its rationale, the Court properly sets to one side the cases involving physical brutality, e. g., Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278 (1936). While they dealt with factors bearing upon the mental state of the defendants, the Court properly distinguishes cases involving threats of mob violence, the wearing down of the accused by protracted questioning, threats against members of the defendant's family, and those in which deception was practiced.
The Court relies heavily on Turner v. Pennsylvania, supra. I do not agree that it presented this Court with "a totality of coercive circumstances" significantly less "aggravated" than the situation presented here. In Turner the Court reviewed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's affirmance of petitioner's conviction by a jury. In the present case no claim is made that the codefendants' confessions, with which Reck was confronted, were in fact not made and did not in fact implicate Reck in the murder of which he was convicted. In Turner, however, the petitioner "was falsely told that other suspects had `opened up' on him." 338 U. S., at 64. Such a falsification, in my judgment, presents a much stronger case for relief because at the outset Pennsylvania's officers resorted to trickery. Moreover, such a psychological artifice tends to prey upon the mind, leading its victim to either resort to countercharges or to assume that "further resistance [is] useless," and abandonment of claimed innocence the only course to follow.
Similarly, in Fikes v. Alabama, 352 U.S. 191, 196-197 (1957), also relied on by the Court, the confession was wrung from an "uneducated Negro, certainly of low mentality, if not mentally ill." Fikes "was a weaker and more susceptible subject than the record in that case reveals Turner to have been." Unlike Reck, Fikes was removed from the local jail to a state prison far from his home and the Court recognized that petitioner's location was a fact
Of course, I agree with the Court that confession cases are not to be resolved by color-matching. Comparisons are perhaps upon occasion unavoidable, and may even be proper, as in a case "on all fours" whose facts approach identity with those of the one claimed apposite. I do not find that to be the situation here, however. In my view, the Court today moves onto new ground, and does not merely retread the steps it took in Turner. In my judgment, neither the elusive, measureless standard of psychological coercion heretofore developed in this Court by accretion on almost an ad hoc, case-by-case basis, nor the disposition made in Turner requires us to disagree with more than a score of impartial judges who have previously considered these same facts. Perhaps, as these cases indicate, reasonable minds may differ in the gauging of the cumulative psychological factors upon which the Court bases its reversal, but in what case, I ask, has a court dealing with the same extrinsic facts, a quarter of a century after conviction, overturned so many decisions by so many judges, both state and federal, entirely upon psychological grounds? When have the conclusions of so many legal minds been found to be so unreasonable by so few?
Certainly, I walk across this shadowy field no more sure-footedly than do my Brothers, but after reading the whole record and the opinions of all of the courts that have heard the case I am unpersuaded that the combined psychological effect of the circumstances somehow, in some way made Reck speak. The fact is, as the Court of Appeals said, when confronted with and accused by all three of his confederates, Reck knew the "dance was over and the time had come to pay the fiddler," quoting from Mr. Justice Jackson's opinion for the Court in Stein v. New York, 346 U.S. 156, 186 (1953).
"Petitioner was in the custody of the police for a week, during which time he was frequently ill, fainted several times, vomited blood on the floor of the police station and was twice taken to the hospital on a stretcher. During that week no formal charge was placed against petitioner, and he was confined practically incommunicado." 7 Ill.2d 261, 264, 130 N.E.2d 200, 202.
"The Court has listened attentively to all of the testimony presented in support of the exhibits and against the introduction of the exhibits. The law in this state is that the burden is on the People to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that a confession or what is introduced as a confession was made voluntarily and freely. If there was any coercion or promise of immunity or reward for making the confession, or if the person making the confession was abused in any way either by striking or threatening or any form of mental or physical abuse, then the confessions would not be free and voluntary confessions.
"After considering all the testimony introduced on this preliminary hearing, the Court finds that the confessions are free and voluntary; and the Court is satisfied that that is established not only by a greater weight of the evidence, but by an overwhelming weight of the evidence. Therefore, the Court will admit these confessions. The Court has admitted the confessions. Now, as to the weight that shall be given to the confessions, that is for the jury."
"Well, the defendant testified that he was arrested on March 25th and that he was taken to a hospital on March 27th. Now, without considering the testimony of the police officers at all, Mr. Kearney testified that he was an Assistant State's Attorney at that time and is now practicing law; that on Friday, at about 10 P. M., he went to the North Avenue Station, after having received a phone call from Chief Aitken; that he told everyone there that he was from the State's Attorney's Office; that he called Dr. Scatliff and Dr. Day and had them go to the County Hospital to examine the petitioner because the petitioner had complained that he was ill; that at the time he took the statement of the petitioner, a member of the Grand Jury was present and several doctors were present during the taking of the statement of the petitioner. He said that he and Assistant State's Attorney Crowley, now Judge Crowley, questioned Reck and Reck gave the answers. He says that he saw no marks or bruises on Reck. Reck at no time complained of any brutality. No one struck or threatened Reck in the presence of Mr. Kearney. He says that he first saw Reck and then the police brought him to the State's Attorney's Office from the County Hospital. Reck told Mr. Kearney that he had been to the County Hospital, but he didn't tell him why. Then Kearney called Dr. Scatliff and Dr. Day at twelve midnight and asked them to go to the County Hospital to see what, if anything, was wrong with Reck. Dr. Scatliff testified that he saw Reck at the County Hospital in the middle of the night on Friday to Saturday and that Dr. Day was with him. That first, he made a visual examination; that when he arrived in the room Reck was asleep, but he was aroused, and Reck was asked if he was ill and Reck merely grunted. The doctor asked Reck if he was in pain and Reck said `No'. He asked Reck what the trouble was and Reck pointed to his stomach. The doctor then testified that we looked him over, he and Dr. Day; that he, Dr. Scatliff, found no bruises or discolorations. Dr. Scatliff said that he pressed on the stomach of this petitioner and the petitioner said nothing. Again, on Sunday, he saw the petitioner and the petitioner had no marks or bruises; that he was asked if he had been mistreated and the petitioner said he had not. The petitioner was asked if he had eaten and the petitioner said he had eaten. On cross-examination he testified that he did not examine the petitioner's stool or urine; that he pressed on his abdomen and there was no evidence of pain; that he had been told that petitioner bled from the mouth, while at the police station, and he testified that bleeding from the mouth could be caused by dental disorders, tumors, by injuries to the stomach, that he had been told that defendant had a gastric ulcer and that, in his opinion, a gastric ulcer could cause bleeding. He also testified on recross examination that a blow on the stomach would aggravate and cause a dormant ulcer to become active and cause bleeding. Captain Aitken testified that while he was talking to the defendant, to the petitioner, the petitioner commenced to bleed from the mouth; that he asked the petitioner what the trouble was, and the petitioner said he had ulcers; that then the doctor recommended that the petitioner be taken to the hospital. Mr. Blair Varnes also testified, an attorney, that he was present at the taking of one of the statements, and he said he saw no bruises on the petitioner and the petitioner made no complaint to him. I do not believe there is sufficient evidence before this Court to disturb the finding of the jury."