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HARRIS V. SOUTH CAROLINA, 338 U. S. 68 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Harris v. South Carolina, 338 U.S. 68 (1949)

Harris v. South Carolina

No. 76

Argued November 16, 1948

Decided June 27, 1949

338 U.S. 68


Suspected of murder in South Carolina, petitioner, an illiterate negro, was arrested in Tennessee on Friday and taken to South Carolina on Sunday. The South Carolina sheriff had obtained a warrant for his arrest for theft of a pistol, but it was not read to him nor was he informed of the charge against him. Confined in a small hot room, he was interrogated daily and nightly by relays of police officers until he confessed to the murder on Wednesday night, after the police had threatened to arrest his mother. Meanwhile, he was denied counsel and access to family and friends, was not given a preliminary hearing, and was not informed of his constitutional rights. At his trial in a state court, the confession was admitted in evidence over his objection and he was convicted.

Held: The use of a confession obtained in this manner violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the conviction is reversed. Watts v. Indiana, ante, p. 338 U. S. 49; Turner v. Pennsylvania, ante, p. 338 U. S. 62. Pp. 338 U. S. 68-71.

212 S.C. 124, 46 S.E.2d 682, reversed.

The Supreme Court of South Carolina affirmed petitioner's conviction for murder notwithstanding his claim that his confession was obtained under circumstances rendering its admission in evidence a denial of due process of law. 212 S.C. 124, 46 S.E.2d 682. This Court granted certiorari. 334 U.S. 837. Reversed, p. 338 U. S. 71.

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