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Brown v. Allen

United States Supreme Court
344 U.S. 443 (1953)


This matter involved the consolidated cases of three black defendants, Brown, Speller, and Daniels (defendants), who were sentenced to death in North Carolina for interracial rape or murder. Brown’s and Speller’s state appeals were denied on the merits by the Supreme Court of North Carolina, and certiorari was denied. Daniels’ state appeal was denied as untimely. The defendants then filed habeas corpus petitions in federal district court, alleging racial discrimination in jury selection and various other claims. Daniels’ petition was denied because the state court appeal was filed late. The federal district court reviewed the state trial court record in Brown’s and Speller’s cases and took additional evidence in the Speller case. The district court denied the petitions, ruling that the state court’s federal constitutional rulings were supported by the evidence and should not be disturbed. The district court also ruled in Speller’s case that the constitutional claims were unsubstantiated. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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Holding and Reasoning (Frankfurter, J.)

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Concurrence (Jackson, J.)

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