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BOULDEN v. HOLMAN

decided: April 2, 1969.

BOULDEN
v.
HOLMAN, WARDEN



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT.

Warren, Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall; Fortas took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Stewart

[ 394 U.S. Page 478]

 MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioner was convicted in the Circuit Court of Morgan County, Alabama, of first-degree murder, and

[ 394 U.S. Page 479]

     was sentenced to death in accordance with the verdict of the jury. After the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, 278 Ala. 437, 179 So. 2d 20, the petitioner instituted this habeas corpus proceeding in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. District Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., denied relief, 257 F.Supp. 1013, and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. 385 F.2d 102, rehearing denied, 393 F.2d 932, 395 F.2d 169. We granted certiorari. 393 U.S. 822.

I.

Although there was substantial additional evidence of the petitioner's guilt, his conviction was based in part on a confession he had made some days after his arrest. His request for habeas corpus relief rested on a claim that the introduction of that confession into evidence violated his rights under the Constitution.*fn1 Since his

[ 394 U.S. Page 480]

     trial antedated our decisions in Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, that claim is essentially a contention that under the constitutional standards prevailing prior to those decisions, his confession was made involuntarily. See Johnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719; Davis v. North Carolina, 384 U.S. 737.

After holding a full hearing regarding the issue and considering the state court record, the District Court, in an opinion applying the proper constitutional standards, was unable to conclude that the petitioner's confession was "other than voluntarily made." The confession, the court found, "simply was not coerced." 257 F.Supp., at 1017, 1016. The Court of Appeals, likewise applying appropriate standards, similarly could "find from the record here no plausible suggestion that Boulden's will was overborne . . . ." 385 F.2d, at 107.*fn2

Little purpose would be served by an extensive summation of the record in the District Court proceedings and in the state trial court. The question whether a confession was voluntarily made necessarily turns on the "totality of the circumstances"*fn3 in any particular case, and most of the relevant circumstances surrounding the petitioner's confession are set out in the opinions of the District Court and the Court of Appeals. Suffice it to say that we have made an independent study of the entire record*fn4 and have determined that, although the

[ 394 U.S. Page 481]

     issue is a relatively close one, the conclusion reached by the District Court and the Court of Appeals was justified.

II.

In seeking habeas corpus the petitioner challenged only the admission of his confession into evidence, and his petition for certiorari was limited to that claim. In his brief and in oral argument on the merits, however, he has raised a substantial additional question: whether the jury that sentenced him to death was selected in accordance with the principles underlying our decision last Term in Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510.

We held in Witherspoon that "a sentence of death cannot be carried out if the jury that imposed or recommended it was chosen by excluding veniremen for cause simply because they voiced general objections to the death penalty or expressed conscientious or religious scruples against its infliction." 391 U.S., at 522. In the present case, the record indicates that no less ...


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