Monday, May 19, 2014

Case Brief: Duncan v. Louisiana

Duncan v. Louisiana (1968) (6th Am. Right to jury trial is applicable to states)
Background: D was convicted of simple battery, a misdemeanor. D requested a jury trial, but request was denied b/c in LA, jury trials are allowed only where sentences of capital punishment or hard labor may be imposed. D claimed the denial of a jury trial violated his 14th Am. right to due process of law.
Issue: Does the 14th Am. DPC make the 6th Am. right to a jury trial applicable to the states?
Holding:  Yes – Under the 14th Am, the States may not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, w/o due process of law.” To determine what due process of law is, the Court has looked to the Bill of Rights for guidance.
o   Ct. has held that DPC protects for example: right to compensation for property taken by state, 1st Am. Rights of speech, press, and religion, 4th Am. Right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, 5th Am. Right to be free of compelled self-incrimination, 6th Am. right to counsel, public counsel, speedy trial,  confrontation of opposing witnesses, and compulsory process for obtaining witnesses.  
o   Believe right to trial by jury in criminal cases is fundamental to our scheme of justice à protects against oppression by gov’t (corrupt/overzealous prosecutor or biased/eccentric judge)

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