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Lisenba v. California

United States Supreme Court
314 U.S. 219 (1941)


Robert James (defendant) was indicted for the murder of his wife. During interrogation, James confessed to the murder and the trial court allowed the confession to be admitted, holding that it was made voluntarily. The confession was made after James had been held in police custody for nearly two days, prior to being arraigned and without counsel. While James claims the police beat him, it is corroborated only that James had been slapped once. Also, James did not mention any mistreatment, save the slap, until trial, even when the district attorney asked how the police were treating him. A few days after this initial interrogation, another man, Hope, was arrested for the murder as well. Hope made statements incriminating James. At this time, James was removed from jail and again questioned, this time for over 12 hours, without his attorney being present, when he finally told his side of the story, placing Hope as the mastermind of the murder scheme. James claims that he confessed after being threatened by an officer. The state argued that James confessed after an officer agreed to take him to a restaurant to get something to eat.

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Dissent (Black, J.)

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