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Betts v. Brady

United States Supreme Court
316 U.S. 455 (1942)


Facts

Betts (defendant) was charged with robbery. Betts could not afford counsel and requested that the state of Maryland appoint him an attorney. This request was denied, because the state only appointed counsel in rape and murder cases. Betts elected to have a non-jury trial. At trial, Betts chose not to testify. Betts did, however, call witnesses who testified that he was somewhere else when the robbery occurred. The main issue at trial was the veracity of the witnesses for the defense. Betts was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. Betts twice petitioned for habeas corpus, alleging the denial of his right to counsel violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Each time, the writ was granted, but relief was denied. Betts petitioned the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, which was granted.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Roberts, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Black, J.)

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