Free Press v. Fair Trial: Supreme Court Decisions since 1807

By Douglas S. Campbell | Go to book overview

Hopt v. Utah

Frederick Hopt v. People of the Territory of Utah Docket No. 1887-1099 120 U.S. 430, 30 L.Ed 708, 7 S.Ct. 614 ( 1887) Submitted January 21, 1887. Decided March 7, 1887.


Background

The Sixth Amendment guarantees defendants a fair trial by an impartial jury; it does not guarantee trial by unopinioned jurors. A distinction can be drawn between jurors who are unconstitutionally prejudiced against a defendant and jurors who merely hold an opinion that the defendant is guilty. This distinction is built on the premise that actual prejudice against a defendant is too strong to be overcome by evidence presented in court, but a mere opinion of guilt can be so "lightly" held that jurors could overcome their opinions after hearing courtroom evidence.

Who draws these distinctions in criminal trials and on what basis they are drawn are two important questions raised by Hopt v. Utah. The Court says here the trial judge draws the distinctions on the basis of guidelines ill state criminal statutes.


Circumstances

Frederick Hopt was convicted four times (the last in September 1885) and first sentenced to death for the murder of John F. Turner on July 3, 1880. Three times the Court reversed his conviction; in this case he seeks to extend his record to four. Hopt bases his requests primarily on four points: prejudiced jurors, improper evidence, improper jury instructions given by the trial judge, and all improper reference to one of his former trials by the district attorney.

Hopt says four jurors were unconstitutionally prejudiced. When challenged for actual (as contrasted to implied) bias, three of the jurors were excused by the trial judge. The fourth, however, was ruled not to hold all actual bias and thus was deemed to be an impartial and competent juror.

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Free Press v. Fair Trial: Supreme Court Decisions since 1807
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Burr V. U.S. 7
  • Reid V. U.S. 19
  • Reynolds V. U.S. 23
  • Hopt V. Utah 31
  • Spies V. Illinois 36
  • Simmons V. U.S. 46
  • Mattox V. U.S. 50
  • Thiede V. Utah 55
  • Holt V. U.S. 60
  • Stroud V. U.S. 65
  • Shepherd V. Florida 70
  • Stroble V. California 77
  • U.S. Ex Rel. Darcy V. Handy 85
  • Marshall V. United States 91
  • Irvin V. Dowd 95
  • Beck V. Washington 101
  • Rideau V. Louisiana 110
  • Estes V. Texas 114
  • Sheppard V. Maxwell 125
  • Murphy V. Florida 133
  • Nebraska Press Association V. Stuart 139
  • Gannett V. Depasquale 149
  • Richmond Newspapers, Inc. V. Virginia 160
  • Chandler V. Florida 167
  • Globe Newspaper Co. V. Superior Court 172
  • Press-Enterprise Co. V. Superior Court 180
  • Waller V. Georgia 186
  • Patton V. Yount 191
  • Press-Enterprise Co. V. Superior Court 198
  • Mu'Min V. Virginia 203
  • Appendix A - ALPHABETICAL LIST OF PRIMARY U.S. SUPREME COURT CASES RELATED TO FREE PRESS-FAIR TRIAL CONFLICT 215
  • Appendix B - SUPPORTING CASES 218
  • Bibliography 239
  • Index 245
  • About the Author *
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