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Watts v. Indiana

United States Supreme Court
338 U.S. 49 (1949)


Facts

Watts (defendant) was arrested on suspicion of criminal assault. After Watts’ arrest, a dead body was discovered. The deceased appeared to have been the victim of criminal assault. Police suspected Watts was the perpetrator of the fatal assault. Watts was transported from the county jail to State Police Headquarters. For the first two days, Watts was held in solitary confinement and interrogated by officers rotating in shifts. The schedule of interrogation each day ran into the early hours of the morning. Watts was interrogated in rotating shifts for five consecutive days. On three of those days, officers put Watts in a car and drove him around town for several hours. He was given a reprieve from interrogation on Sunday. Interrogation resumed on Monday and continued into Tuesday morning, at which time Watts confessed to the killing. Watts did not have the assistance of legal counsel at any time during the interrogations. Watts was not advised of his constitutional rights and was not afforded a preliminary hearing. Watts was convicted and the state courts upheld the judgment on appeal. Watts appealed to the United States Supreme Court and his case was reviewed in conjunction with similar cases from two different states.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Frankfurter, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Concurrence (Douglas, J.)

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Concurrence (Jackson, J.)

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Concurrence (Black, J.)

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