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Screws v. United States

United States Supreme Court
325 U.S. 91 (1945)


Screws (defendant) and two other police officers in Georgia arrested Hall, a young African-American, for theft of tires. The police officers took Hall to the county court house and began to beat him with their fists and with an iron bar. Screws claimed that Hall was trying to pull a gun on them, but evidence demonstrated that the officers beat Hall for at least fifteen minutes after he was handcuffed. Hall died from the incident. Screws was charged with willfully depriving an individual of his rights under the due process clause of the Constitution based on the individual’s race and conspiracy of the same crime. The trial judge instructed the jury to find Screws guilty of the crime if he willfully deprived Hall of his right to a trial by jury as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The judge instructed the jury that Hall was guilty if they believed he wrongfully assaulted Hall and intended his injuries. Screws was convicted of both the crime and conspiracy of the same crime. The circuit court of appeals affirmed his conviction. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J)

Concurrence (Rutledge, J.)

Dissent (Murphy, J.)

Dissent (Roberts, J.)

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