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LEYRA V. DENNO, 347 U. S. 556 (1954)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Leyra v. Denno, 347 U.S. 556 (1954)

Leyra v. Denno

No. 635

Argued April 28, 1954

Decided June 1, 1954

347 U.S. 556


After petitioner had been subjected to many hours of day and night questioning by police officers as a murder suspect, a state-employed psychiatrist with considerable knowledge of hypnosis was introduced to him as a "doctor" brought to give him medical relief from a painful sinus. By skillful and suggestive questioning, threats and promises, the psychiatrist obtained a confession. At petitioner's first trial in a New York state court, that confession was admitted in evidence, and he was convicted, but the State Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that the confession was coerced. At petitioner's second trial, that confession was not used to convict him, but other confessions made the same evening were used. The issue as to the "voluntariness" of these later confessions was submitted to the jury, and petitioner was again convicted.

Held: the use of confessions extracted in such a manner from a lone defendant unprotected by counsel is not consistent with the due process of law required by the Constitution, and a Federal District Court's denial of a writ of habeas corpus is reversed. Pp. 347 U. S. 556-562.

208 F.2d 605 reversed.

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