Friday, March 23, 2012

Adamson v. CA case brief

 Adamson v. CA (1947)

Defendant did not testify and prosecution red flagged that
(now) Fed court - Can’t burden the right to not incriminate yourself
RULE: However sound may be the legislative conclusion that an accused should not be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, we see no reason why comment should not be made upon his silence.
CON LAW: Right to a fair trial is protected by the 14A DP clause, but not all the BOR are drawn under its protection.
Rationale:
  • Commonsense says a choice was made.
  • It seems quite natural that when a defendant has an opportunity to deny or explain facts and determines not to do so, the prosecution should bring out the strength of the evidence by commenting upon the defendant’s failure to explain or deny it.
J. Frankfurter’s concurrence deals with “ordered liberty”
  • Challenges the view of wholesale incorporation since that would result in surplussage (a wasted clause in the 14A “without due process of law”)
  • DP is what is due under “natural law” – preferable to total incorporation
  • It is an accepted notion of justice
  • There may be rights not recognized under the BOR, yet which are still part of the natural law makeup of ordered liberty
J. Black’s dissent
  • Believes in total incorporation
  • He really fears Frankfurter’s natural law formulation as an “incongruous excressance” (unnecessary protuberance)
  • Fears activist judges
Fundamental shift of the burden of proof
Presumption of innocence
  • Gov’t has to build its case from ground zero
  • An adverse inference of guilt no longer builds upon the evidence supplied by the govt
  • The purpose of DP is not to protect an accused against a proper conviction, but against an unfair conviction.

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