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Legal Brief of Adamson v. California by: David A.W. Hittle Case #1 of 10

Adamson v. California pg. 56

332 U.S. 45; S. Ct. 1672; 91 L.Ed. 1903 (1947)

Vote 5-4


The Facts of the case are these: Adamson was convicted by a jury in California or murder in the first degree. The sentence of death was affirmed by the Supreme Court of California. Provisions of California law were challenged under the fourteenth amendment…. The defendant in his case did not testify. The appellant was charged in the information with former convictions of burglary, larceny and robbery under the California Penal code.


The main issues of the case are these: Were the appellants Fifth Amendment rights violated by the court? Were the appellants Fourteenth Amendment rights violated by the court?


The Court decided by a vote of 5 to 4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment did not provide that the Fifth Amendment be applied to the state courts but only to federal ones. The Court also ruled that comments made after a defendants silence was allowed ad didn’t violate his Fifth Amendment rights.


Justice Reed on behalf of the majority ruled against the accused on the Fourteenth Amendment violation because of a previous Supreme Court decision in “Palko v. Connecticut” the Court from that case says: “Nothing has been called to our attention hat either the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment on the states that adopted it intended its due process clause to draw within its scope the earlier amendments to the Constitution.”


Justice Frankfurter concurred with the majority with his own opinion. He stated that “the relevant question is whether the criminal proceedings which resulted in conviction deprived the accused of the due process of law to which the U.S. Constitution entitled him.” By agreeing with the majority he concludes that his due process rights were not infringed.


Justice Black and Justice Douglas joined together to dissent the majority. They argue that the “Fourteenth Amendment extended to all people the complete protection of the Bill of Rights.” They hold that the Court doesn’t have the power to decide which bill of rights to enforce and to what degree they’re enforced by the Court. The Justices concluded that the Fifth Amendment must be afforded by California.


Justice Murphy and Justice Rutledge join together to dissent the majority in their own opinion. They opine that they agreed that “the specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights should be carried over intact into the first sector of the Fourteenth Amendment.” They agree that the guarantee against self-incrimination was violated in this case.


This Supreme Court case made clear that the Court believed that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States didn’t make the prior amendments applicable to the states and state courts. The dissent disagrees, as we all know the dissenters eventually win…