BREWER V. WILLIAMS, 430 U. S. 387 (1977)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387 (1977)

Brewer v. Williams

No. 74-1263

Argued October 4, 1976

Decided March 23, 1977

430 U.S. 387


Respondent was arrested, arraigned, and committed to jail in Davenport, Iowa, for abducting a 10-year-old girl in Des Moines, Iowa. Both his Des Moines lawyer and his lawyer at the Davenport arraignment advised respondent not to make any statements until after consulting with the Des Moines lawyer upon being returned to Des Moines, and the police officers who were to accompany respondent on the automobile drive back to Des Moines agreed not to question him during the trip. During the trip, respondent expressed no willingness to be interrogated in the absence of an attorney, but instead stated several times that he would tell the whole story after seeing his Des Moines lawyer. However, one of the police officers, who knew that respondent was a former mental patient and was deeply religious, sought to obtain incriminating remarks from respondent by stating to him during the drive that he felt they should stop and locate the girl's body because her parents were entitled to a Christian burial for the girl, who was taken away from them on Christmas Eve. Respondent eventually made several incriminating statements in the course of the trip, and finally directed the police to the girl's body. Respondent was tried and convicted of murder, over his objections to the admission of evidence relating to or resulting from any statements he made during the automobile ride, and the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed, holding, as did the trial court, that respondent had waived his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel. Respondent then petitioned for habeas corpus in Federal District Court, which held that the evidence in question had been wrongly admitted at respondent's trial on the ground, inter alia, that he had been denied his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel, and further ruled that he had not waived that right. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Petitioner warden claims that the District Court, in making its findings of fact, disregarded 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), which provides that, subject to certain exceptions, federal habeas corpus courts shall accept as correct the factual determinations made by state courts.


1. The District Court correctly applied 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) in its

Page 430 U. S. 388

resolution of the disputed evidentiary facts where it appears that it made no findings of fact in conflict with those of the Iowa courts, and that its additional findings of fact based upon its examination of the state court record were conscientiously and carefully explained, and were approved by the Court of Appeals as being supported by the record. Pp. 395-397.

2. Respondent was deprived of his constitutional right to assistance of counsel. Pp. 430 U. S. 397-401.

(a) The right to counsel granted by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments means at least that a person is entitled to a lawyer's help at or after the time that judicial proceedings have been initiated against him, and here there is no doubt that judicial proceedings had been initiated against respondent before the automobile trip started, since a warrant had been issued for his arrest, he had been arraigned, and had been committed to jail. Pp. 430 U. S. 398-399.

(b) An individual against whom adversary proceedings have commenced has a right to legal representation when the government interrogates him, Massiah v. United States, 377 U. S. 201, and since here the police officer's "Christian burial speech" was tantamount to interrogation, respondent was entitled to the assistance of counsel at the time he made the incriminating statements. Pp. 430 U. S. 399-401.

3. The circumstances of record provide, when viewed in light of respondent's assertions of his right to counsel, no reasonable basis for finding that respondent waived his right to the assistance of counsel, the record falling far short of sustaining the State's burden to prove "an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege," Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U. S. 458, 304 U. S. 464. Pp. 430 U. S. 401-406.

509 F.2d 227, affirmed.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., post, p. 430 U. S. 406, POWELL, J., post, p. 430 U. S. 409, and STEVENS, J., post, p. 430 U. S. 414, filed concurring opinions. BURGER, C.J.,filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 430 U. S. 415. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, post, p. 430 U. S. 429. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which WHITE and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, post, p. 430 U. S. 438.

Page 430 U. S. 389

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