Petitioner, a nineteen year old Negro, was convicted of rape in a circuit court of Alabama. The conviction, largely predicated on a confession made by petitioner on July 3, 1946, to the local police, was affirmed on April 24, 1947, by the Supreme Court of Alabama. This petition was subsequently initiated before the Alabama Supreme Court seeking an order granting permission to petition the trial court for a writ of error coram nobis. The request was accompanied by an allegation that petitioner's confession had been induced by mental and physical torture administered by the local police. At no time during the previous trial and appeal had petitioner or his counsel offered any indication that his confession was not voluntary. In fact, all the testimony concerning the confession was uncontradicted and was to the effect that petitioner made the disclosure "to get it all off his chest." The petition in the new proceeding was supported only by the affidavits of three men who had been in jail with petitioner at the time of the confession. The state was allowed to introduce evidence, and a hearing on the evidence was conducted by the Alabama Supreme Court which held, by a vote of six to one, that the petition should be denied. The denial of an opportunity to be heard in the trial court was alleged by petitioner to be a deprivation of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari. Held, affirmed. In view of the implausibility of the allegation of coercion, the Alabama court was within its constitutional authority in denying the petition. Justice Murphy, in a dissenting opinion concurred in by Justices Rutledge and Douglas, expressed the view that since there was some evidence to substantiate petitioner's claim, he should be allowed a hearing in the trial court. Taylor v. Alabama, 335 U.S. 252, 68 S.Ct. 1415 (1948).
Bernard L. Trott,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-DUE PROCESS-RIGHT OF ACCUSED TO WRIT OF ERROR CORAM NOBIS,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol47/iss3/9