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Barker v. Wingo

Supreme Court of the United States

April 11, 1972, Argued ; June 22, 1972, Decided

No. 71-5255


 [*515]   [***108]   [**2184]  MR. JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

 Although a speedy trial is guaranteed the accused by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, 1 this Court has dealt with that right on infrequent occasions. See Beavers v. Haubert, 198 U.S. 77 (1905); Pollard v. United States, 352 U.S. 354 (1957); United States v. Ewell, 383 U.S. 116 (1966); United States v. Marion, 404 U.S. 307 (1971). See also United States v. Provoo, 17 F.R.D. 183 (D. Md.), aff'd, 350 U.S. 857 (1955). The Court's opinion in Klopfer v. North Carolina, 386 U.S. 213 (1967), established that ] the right to a speedy trial is "fundamental" and is imposed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth [****4]  Amendment on the States. 2 See Smith v. Hooey, 393 U.S. 374 (1969);  [***109]  Dickey  [**2185]  v. Florida, 398 U.S. 30 (1970). As MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN  [*516]  pointed out in his concurring opinion in Dickey, in none of these cases have we attempted to set out the criteria by which the speedy trial right is to be judged. 398 U.S., at 40-41. This case compels us to make such an attempt.

 [****5]  I

On July 20, 1958, in Christian County, Kentucky, an elderly couple was beaten to death by intruders wielding an iron tire tool. Two suspects, Silas Manning and Willie Barker, the petitioner, were arrested shortly thereafter. The grand jury indicted them on September 15. Counsel was appointed on September 17, and Barker's trial was set for October 21. The Commonwealth had a stronger case against Manning, and it believed that Barker could not be convicted unless Manning testified against him. Manning was naturally unwilling to incriminate himself. Accordingly, on October 23, the day Silas Manning was brought to trial, the Commonwealth sought and obtained the first of what was to be a series of 16 continuances of Barker's trial. 3 Barker made no objection. By first convicting Manning, the Commonwealth would remove possible problems of self-incrimination and would be able to assure his testimony against Barker.

 [****6]  The Commonwealth encountered more than a few difficulties in its prosecution of Manning. The first trial ended in a hung jury. A second trial resulted in a conviction, but the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed because of the admission of evidence obtained by an illegal search.  Manning v. Commonwealth, 328 S. W. 2d 421 (1959). At his third trial, Manning was again convicted, and the Court of Appeals again reversed  [*517]  because the trial court had not granted a change of venue. Manning v. Commonwealth, 346 S. W. 2d 755 (1961). A fourth trial resulted in a hung jury. Finally, after five trials, Manning was convicted, in March 1962, of murdering one victim, and after a sixth trial, in December 1962, he was convicted of murdering the other. 4

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407 U.S. 514 *; 92 S. Ct. 2182 **; 33 L. Ed. 2d 101 ***; 1972 U.S. LEXIS 34 ****



Disposition:  442 F.2d 1141, affirmed.


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