Midterm Essay Examination
Part 1, #1
Betts v. Brady in 1942 is a court case about an indigent white man named Betts who was charged with robbery. As soon as Betts got arrested he requested council and he was immediately denied. Betts was extremely poor, and he was very backwards to society. The reason why he was denied council was because his request for council was not handled as “special circumstances.” Justice Owen Roberts viewed Betts as an ordinary citizen, one with “ordinary intelligence and ability to take care of his own interests on the trial of a narrow issue.” When Betts went to trial he did not have a lawyer and he had to represent himself. Obviously, Betts lost his trial and he had to serve his time in jail. While Betts was in jail he appealed to the Supreme Court explaining that he was wrongfully accused and was denied council. The Supreme Court denied him and he was left to serve his punishment. Betts’ case was wrongfully decided because his right to a due process under the Constitution was violated. The Bill of Rights states that, “fundamental and essential to a fair trial is made obligatory upon the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Betts was not given his right to council that would have given him a fair trial.
Betts v. Brady decided that council was only required under certain/special circumstances. About 20 years later, another similar case arose, Gideon v. Wainwright. Gideon was arrested and denied council, lost his trial, and was sentenced to jail. However, after appeal, Gideon eventually ended up winning his case. Clarence Earl Gideon was a fifty- one- year old man who had been in and out of jail for most of his life. He eventually got caught Panama City, Florida, at the Bay Harbor Poolroom for breaking in to the establishment. He, like Betts, was a very poor man and he asked for council and was rejected. The book says, “The judge refused, and Gideon was convicted and sentenced.” Gideon’s entire trial lasted less than one day. The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to five years in prison. During Gideon’s five year jail sentence he mailed a petition that was handwritten on a piece of lined paper. He sent this letter directly to the Supreme Court. The book goes on to say that, “Gideon did not know that he was asking the Court to reverse itself.” Gideon then waited to see if he would ever hear from the Supreme Court and be granted another trial. After the letter was sent to the Supreme Court, it got the attention of some new men that President Kennedy had appointed. Arthur Goldberg and Byron White jumped on the case. These men along with Warren Court wanted to find the best lawyer for Gideon so that they could change the law. After the Supreme Court granted the right to a retrial, Warren was able to get a very prominent Washington, D.C., lawyer, Abe Fortas, to “act as council for Gideon on his appeal.” A member of the supreme court, Justice Black, said, “Since 1942, when Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455, was decided by a divided Court, the problem of a defendant’s federal constitutional rights to council in a state court has been a continuing source of controversy and litigation in both state and federal courts.” He believed that a person should never be “deprived of counsel merely because of his poverty. Any other practice seems to me to defeat the promise of our democratic society to provide equal justice under the law.” He questioned whether Betts v. Brady should be reconsidered.” Justice Black said, “Betts claimed that he had been unconstitutionally denied the right to have council appointed to assist him are strikingly like the facts upon which Gideon here bases his federal constitutional claim.” He noted that the facts of the two cases were very close, but the outcome was very different. Betts v. Brady he says was “holding if left standing would require us to reject Gideon’s claim that the Constitution guarantees him the assistance of counsel.” Justice Black said that Betts v. Brady should be overruled because it was not a fair trial. Justice Black became a hero of sorts. In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court over-turned Gideon’s conviction. Abe Fortas was able to change the precedence of Betts v. Brady. The outcome was that all defendants of criminal cases must be granted the right to council when they are unable to afford their own. In Gideon’s first and second trial there were many differences. The biggest difference was that in the first trial Gideon had to represent himself. He asked for a lawyer and he was rejected. Gideon was described as a sad, down-on-his luck individual. He did not have the education or the knowledge to represent his own case in a court of law. In representing himself, he did not know how to pick a jury, question a witness, or conduct himself in court. It is very clear that in his first trial he was not prepared and there is no surprise when the jury found him guilty. In the second trial, Gideon was represented by a lawyer and that lawyer helped him win his case. The lawyer was able to pick some of the jurors for Gideon’s case. For instance, his lawyer saw that certain jurors were dismissed that might have been biased against Gideon. The lawyer was the one who really won Gideon trial for him. His lawyer was able to pull facts from Gideon about the case and Gideon was able to give specific details about what happened the night that he was accused of breaking into the pool room. One important fact that Gideon told his lawyer was that he did not like wine and he never drank alcohol. This fact was very important because Gideon was being accused of breaking into the pool room and stealing wine and other alcoholic beverages. The lawyer used the point that Gideon did not like wine and this was able to help the jury understand Gideon better. Throughout all this mess with the different court cases and the Supreme Court getting involved, federalism was harmed. Federalism is the separation of state and the federal government. In this case the state wanted the Supreme Court to find that Gideon had been rightfully convicted, but as we see they did not. The Supreme Court decided that all defendants must have the right to an attorney. Federalism was harmed because federal courts were trying to apply their ruling to the states. Founding fathers created this country to avoid oppression of strong national governments. In these two cases I have learned a lot about how the courts can make mistakes. In both cases, Betts and Gideon were underprivileged men charged with a crime. They could not afford legal counsel so they both had to represent themselves in court. They were both found guilty and sentenced to jail. Thankfully Gideon’s plea was able to reach the Supreme Court and he received some help with an appeal. Gideon’s second trial completely changed the way the state law is written.
Part 2, #’s2, 3, and 5
2. Justice Day
As per Justice Day, his opinion in the case of the United States v. Leon would be dissenting in part of the fact that an exception to the Exclusionary Rule was made. As the Fourth Amendment states, “the right of the people to be secured in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particular describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” This Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain written permission from the court of law to lawfully search and seize evidence while investigating criminal activity. Unreasonable search and seizure is usually considered unconstitutional, especially if conducted without a valid warrant. Police must obtain a search warrant whenever possible.
In Mapp v. Ohio it was determined that the Exclusionary Rule be applied and allowed not only in federal court, but in state court as well. This decision set a precedent that all evidence gathered without a warrant or without probable cause would not be admissible in court and would not be allowed to be used against the defendant. Even though the evidence was gathered in “good faith,” it was still obtained illegally. Therefore, illegally obtained evidence could not be used against Leon, even though he was guilty of a crime.
The Exclusionary Rule is the illegal principle under Constitutional Law which states that evidence collected in violation of a defendant’s Constitutional Rights shall be inadmissible in criminal prosecution within the court of law. This rule may be referred to as a legal technicality because it enables a defendant to give a defense which does not address whether a crime has actually been committed. That being said, it is similar to the Fifth Amendment which protects individuals from double jeopardy. There has been much discussion regarding the limitations of this rule; however, it has been said in Mapp v Ohio that it should be applied to all courts.
What is good faith? In the United States v. Leon good faith is defined as an honest intention, even if producing unfortunate results or beliefs. In this case the police were unaware of an ill gotten warrant, and police acted upon orders of their superior officer. This established that evidence gained by good faith by police relying on a search warrant that was found to be invalid can be used in a criminal trial.
However, this ruling was to be overturned due to the Exclusionary rule. Without this evidence there is no case against the defendant Leon and the case was dropped. 3. Justice Brennan
The dissenting opinion of Justice Brennan of Wolf v. Colorado would affirm the original decision to convict Julius Wolf as the evidence obtained was used in good faith to seek justice. He would also concur with associate Justice Felix Frankfurter who states that “in a prosecution in a state court for a state crime, the Fourteenth Amendment does not forbid the admission of evidence obtained and by an unreasonable search and seizure.” This shows that evidence gathered, whether it be through appropriate channels or “fruit from the poisons tree” shall be admissible in court.
In Wolf v. Colorado illegally obtained evidence was used to convict Julius Wolf despite the Fourth Amendment protecting people’s right which states “unreasonable search and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particular describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” as quoted by the Constitution. Therefore, Wolf believed that evidence obtained and used to assist in his prosecution against charges of performing abortion were ill gotten and shall not be used against him in a court of law. To support his argument Wolf then cited Weeks v. United States in which the Supreme Court unanimously decided that evidence obtained through unreasonable search and seizure should be excluded from the record. This set a new precedent referred to as the Exclusionary Rule. The Exclusionary Rule states that evidence gathered illegally was considered “fruit from the poisonous tree” and inadmissible in court. However, since this case took place prior to Mapp v. Ohio, the Exclusionary Rule was not recognized only in federal cases and not in state cases. Don’t understand the sentence in yellow…should the word “not” be removed? Therefore, the evidence obtained proved Julius Wolf’s conspiracy to perform criminal abortions, and the conviction should be upheld as per the “good faith” exception to the Exclusionary Rule.
The Due Process clause acknowledges an individual’s rights dictated by society and which would be owed to them under governance of the law. It has been said that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees a person a right to Due Process. But, the Fourteenth Amendment does not require illegally obtained evidence or testimony which would be infringing on the Fourth Amendment do be excluded from use by the states in criminal prosecution. This rationale has been affirmed and upheld by the Supreme Court of Colorado.
Therefore it is Justice Brennan’s belief that the original determination of Julius Wolf be upheld and the appeal be overruled. 5. Chief Justice White
The dissenting opinion of Chief Justice White would be that he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision that Miranda warnings need to be read to all criminals before arrest can be made. His first opinion which is based on the Fifth Amendment which states that, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” As mentioned in the Constitution, Due Process is required by law. The Due Process protects a person’s legal rights under the Constitution. Included in this protection is the right against self incrimination. These rights that are given in the Fifth Amendment should be able to stand on their own, without warning upon arrest.
In addition to this argument is the fact that Dickerson did admit to the two federal crimes he was charged with, one being robbery and the other being possession of a firearm. Because of this he should be convicted based upon his confession despite the fact that he did not receive his so called Miranda warnings The decision should be upheld on the basis of a confession rather than self incrimination. If every criminal could use self incrimination as an excuse for writing a confession the purpose of confessions would be useless. When police use coercion to gather evidence and confessions from criminals, they are violating the Fifth Amendment. Even though these confessions they gather may be given voluntary, this evidence that is shall not be used in court due to the fact that it violates a person’s Fifth Amendment right in which they would be compelled to incriminate him or herself. Sentence in yellow doesn’t make sense.
Since Miranda v. Arizona was determined thirty five years ago and because it was a Supreme Court ruling, I believe that it should be upheld. This does not mean that I agree with Miranda, but I do respect any Supreme Court decision because it is the highest court of all the land.