Escobedo v. Illinois
Decided on June 22, 1964; 378 US 478


Where a police investigation has passed the stage of "general inquiry," the suspect has the right to speak to an attorney and any confession obtained during the interrogation without the presence of an attorney is not admissible at trial.

 

I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Criminal procedure, right to an attorney

B. Legal Question Presented:

Does the refusal by the police to honor petitioner's request to consult with his lawyer during the course of an interrogation constitute a denial of "the Assistance of Counsel" in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution as "made obligatory upon the States by the Fourteenth Amendment?"

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

Petitioner, a 22-year-old of Mexican extraction, was arrested with his sister and taken to police headquarters for interrogation in connection with the fatal shooting, about 11 days before, of his brother-in-law. He had been arrested shortly after the shooting, but had made no statement, and was released after his lawyer obtained a writ of habeas corpus from a state court. Petitioner made several requests to see his lawyer, who, though present in the building, and despite persistent efforts, was refused access to his client. Petitioner was not advised by the police of his right to remain silent and, after persistent questioning by the police, made a damaging statement to an Assistant State's Attorney which was admitted at the trial. Convicted of murder, he appealed to the State Supreme Court, which affirmed the conviction.

On certiorari the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Illinois Supreme Court.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable

Unavailable

III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Bernard Weisberg argued the cause for the American Civil Liberties Union, as amicus curiae, urging reversal. With him on the brief was Walter T. Fisher.

Barry L. Kroll argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the brief was Donald M. Haskell.

James R. Thompson argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Daniel P. Ward and Elmer C. Kissane.


IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"Under the circumstances of this case, where a police investigation is no longer a general inquiry into an unsolved crime but has begun to focus on a particular suspect in police custody who has been refused an opportunity to consult with his counsel and who has not been warned of his constitutional right to keep silent, the accused has been denied the assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments; and no statement extracted by the police during the interrogation may be used against him at a trial."

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Illinois Supreme Court.

Justice Vote: 5 Pro vs. 4 Con
  • Goldberg, A. Pro (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Black, H. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Brennan, W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Warren, E. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Harlan, J. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • White, B. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Stewart, P. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion, joined White's dissenting opinion)
  • Clark, T. Con (Joined White's dissenting opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged reversal of the Illinois Supreme Court's Judgment; the Supreme Court reversed in a 5-4 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent win.