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A district court is required to hold a hearing on the factual contentions of the voluntariness of a confession. Such a hearing is required if the state evidentiary hearing failed to resolve the merits of the factual dispute or was not "full and fair."
Appellant had been held for 38 hours by the police and was intermittently interrogated. He was not advised of his right to remain silent or of his right to counsel. He was denied sleep and food, was deceived by false promises of help, and was deprived of the support of counsel or friends until he confessed. Appellant confessed and was subsequently convicted of bank robbery. Appellant filed a pro se habeas corpus petition attacking the voluntariness of his confession on grounds of physical and mental coercion. The district court denied appellant’s petition on the ground that the state evidentiary hearing had adequately and fairly determined the issues as to voluntariness. Appellant sought relief from the district court’s order.
Did the state evidentiary hearing adequately and fairly determine the issues as to voluntariness, thereby justifying the denial of the appellant’s pro se habeas corpus petition?
The court reversed the district court's finding as to appellant's claim of mental coercion because the state evidentiary hearing did not meet the standard of full and fair because it failed to resolved the dispute on mental coercion and had only found that there was no physical coercion. The facts, if proved, could have established that the confession was obtained by means that overcame appellant's will. The court remanded for a resolution on the issue of mental coercion.