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

By Douglas S. Campbell | Go to book overview

Thiede v. Utah

Charles Thiede v. People of the Territory of Utah Docket No. 1895-633 159 U.S. 510, 40 L.Ed. 237, 16 S.Ct. 62 ( 1895) Submitted October 21, 1895. Decided November 11, 1895.


Background

The Court heard this case without benefit of arguments or a brief filed by an attorney. While in prison, Thiede simply asked the Court to review the more-than-400 pages of proceedings and make rulings based on his assignment of errors. Although the Court discussed five of the assigned errors, only one is relevant to the conflict between a free press and a fair trial.

Four jurors admitted they had read newspaper stories about the murder for which Thiede was convicted. They also stated that, on the basis of these news stories, they had indeed formed "some impressions" (515), but they asserted they could "lay aside any such impressions and could try the case fairly and impartially upon the evidence presented" (516). The only question for the Court, therefore, was whether or not the jurors' declarations fell within the relevant law of the Territory of Utah, a law which it had previously declared constitutional, in Hopt v. Utah ( 1887).


Circumstances

Charles Thiede, 33, owner of a brewery and an adjacent saloon, said he woke tip a Jacob Lauenberger about 1 A.M. on Tuesday, May 1, 1894, telling Lauenberger that his [ Thiede's] wife, Mary, was lying dead at a corner of his saloon with her throat cut. Later testimony indicated that her head was nearly "severed" from the body by a large knife. About thirty feet away was a pool of blood and signs of a struggle. Blood stains led from that point to the body. A large knife often used by Thiede was never found.

Thiede, who had been in the saloon that night and who had blood on his hands and clothing, went with Lauenberger to find a physician. During

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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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