CROOKER V. CALIFORNIA, 357 U. S. 433 (1958)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Crooker v. California, 357 U.S. 433 (1958)

Crooker v. California

No. 178

Argued April 2, 1958

Decided June 30, 1958

357 U.S. 433


Petitioner, a 31-year-old college graduate who had attended the first year of law school and had studied criminal law, was convicted in a state court of murder and sentenced to death, and his conviction was affirmed by the State Supreme Court. He claims that his conviction violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, because (1) the confession admitted in evidence over his objection was coerced, and (2), even if it was voluntary, it occurred while he was without counsel because of denials of his requests for an opportunity to obtain counsel. During the 14 hours between his arrest and confession, he asked several times for an opportunity to get counsel, but this was denied until after he had confessed. Meanwhile, he refused to take a lie detector test, refused to answer many questions, and showed full awareness of his right to be silent. He was advised by a police lieutenant that he need not answer any questions he did not wish to answer. The questioning by several police officers was intermittent, and petitioner was given coffee, milk, and a sandwich, and allowed to smoke whenever he liked.

Held: the judgment is affirmed. Pp. 357 U. S. 431-441.

1. On the record, this Court is unable to say that petitioner's confession was anything other than voluntary. Pp. 357 U. S. 434-438.

2. Denial by state officials of the request of an accused for an opportunity to engage counsel at any stage of the pretrial proceedings in a criminal case violates due process if he is so prejudiced thereby as to make his subsequent trial lacking in basic fairness, but the record in this case does not show that petitioner was so prejudiced. Pp. 357 U. S. 438-441.

47 Cal.2d 348, 303 P.2d 753, affirmed.

Page 357 U. S. 434

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