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Law School Case Brief

Escobedo v. Illinois - 378 U.S. 478, 84 S. Ct. 1758 (1964)

Rule:

A constitution which guarantees a defendant the aid of counsel at trial could surely vouchsafe no less to an indicted defendant under interrogation by the police in a completely extrajudicial proceeding. Anything less might deny a defendant effective representation by counsel at the only stage when legal aid and advice would help him.

Facts:

Petitioner was convicted for murder. He appealed alleging that, while being interrogated in police custody, he asked to speak with his lawyer, but the request was denied. The appellate court affirmed the conviction and held that petitioner's confession was admissible even though it was obtained after he had requested and been denied the assistance of counsel. Petitioner sought review.

Issue:

Does the refusal by the police to honor petitioner's request to consult with his lawyer during the course of an interrogation constitute a denial of the assistance of counsel in violation of the U.S. Constitution?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of conviction because petitioner was denied the assistance of counsel. The court noted that  suspect who was being interrogated by police while in custody, who had not been warned of his right to remain silent, and who had requested and been denied an opportunity to consult with his lawyer, had been denied the assistance of counsel in violation of U.S. Const. amend. VI, and any statement elicited under such circumstances could not be used against him at a criminal trial.

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