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Harrington v. California

395 U.S. 250 (1969)

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Harrington v. California

United States Supreme Court

395 U.S. 250 (1969)

Facts

Glen Harrington (defendant) was charged with attempted robbery and first-degree murder in state court and proceeded to trial with three alleged coconspirators: Bosby, Cooper, and Rhone. Harrington told police that he was present at the store during the murder and fled with the three coconspirators but claimed that Bosby was the shooter. All three coconspirators confessed, and their confessions were admitted at trial, but only Rhone testified and was cross-examined by Harrington’s attorney. Bosby’s and Cooper’s confessions did not mention Harrington by name, instead repeatedly referring to a White man; Harrington was White, and his three alleged coconspirators were Black. Bosby’s and Cooper’s confessions noted that the White man did not appear to have a gun. Rhone testified that Harrington was in the store with a gun during the murder. Rhone possessed a gun when Rhone was arrested, and Rhone testified that Harrington gave Rhone the gun after Harrington used it during the robbery. Several eyewitnesses placed Harrington at the store with a gun, but two of those witnesses—the only surviving victims—originally claimed that four Black men committed the crime. The jury convicted Harrington, Bosby, Cooper, and Rhone. The California Court of Appeal affirmed Harrington’s conviction, and the California Supreme Court denied a petition for a hearing. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether the admission of Harrington’s coconspirators’ confessions as evidence against Harrington was a constitutional violation that required overturning Harrington’s conviction.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J.)

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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