Griffin (defendant) was convicted of first degree murder. He did not testify at his trial. During its closing, the prosecution repeatedly referred to Griffin’s failure to testify, implying that it indicated guilt. The judge instructed the jury that Griffin had a constitutional right not to testify. However, pursuant to a California statute, the judge told the jury that it could infer as true any evidence or facts that Griffin could have reasonably been expected to deny or explain. The state supreme court affirmed the conviction. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.