Ashcraft v. Tennessee
United States Supreme Court
322 U.S. 143 (1944)
The police took E. E. Ashcraft (defendant) into custody on a Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. to question him regarding the murder of his wife, Zelma, nine days earlier. Ashcraft was seated at a table with a light over his head in a homicide-investigation office at the county jail. Ashcraft was interrogated by officers in shifts for 36 straight hours without a break until Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. The State of Tennessee (plaintiff) alleged that, after the first 28 hours of questioning, Ashcraft said that a man named Ware had abducted Zelma and likely killed her. The police took Ware into custody that night. Ware allegedly confessed to the murder on Monday morning at 5:40 a.m. and stated that Ashcraft had hired him to commit the murder. The state alleged that Ashcraft was presented with Ware’s statement on the same morning at 9:30 a.m. and that he admitted to the truth of the statement. Ashcraft refused to sign a transcript of his purported statement, but the statement was witnessed by several people who had been brought into the room at the end of the examination. The state alleged that Ashcraft was treated kindly throughout the interrogation and appeared normal, with no outward sign of being tired at the time of the alleged confession. The state admitted that the officers questioned Ashcraft in shifts because they needed rest. Ashcraft denied making any confession and alleged that he was threatened and abused in various ways throughout the interrogation. Ashcraft alleged that the light seemed blinding, his body became weary, and the stress became unbearable. Ashcraft was convicted as an accessory before the fact. The Supreme Court of Tennessee affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)
Dissent (Jackson, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 175,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.