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

By Douglas S. Campbell | Go to book overview

Irvin v. Dowd

Leslie Irvin v. A. F. Dowd, Warden

Docket No. 1960-41 366 U.S. 717, 6 L.Ed.2d 751, 81 S.Ct. 1639 ( 1961)

Argued November 9, 1960. Decided June 5, 1961.


Background

Since government is prevented by the First Amendment from regulating the press, the courts have been forced to find other ways to avoid or to ameliorate conflicts between the free flow of information about a trial and a defendant's right to trial by an impartial jury. One of these methods is a change of venue. By holding the trial in a location where pretrial publicity is either absent or present at a level that poses no threat to unacceptably prejudicing prospective jurors, trial courts have been able to reduce, or in some cases nearly eliminate, the possibility of inadmissible evidence reaching a juror.

This method raises a number of important questions addressed here by the Court. Is it possible for pretrial publicity to be so intense and widespread that all prospective jurors in a given geographical area cannot be believed when asserting that they have remained impartial? When does exposure to pretrial publicity in the media ineluctably result in an opinion -- of guilt or innocence -- that is so imbedded in the mind that it renders jurors incapable of rendering a verdict solely on the basis of the evidence presented in the trial? How does a court determine the strength of pretrial opinions formed on the basis of information presented in the mass media?


Circumstances

A killing December 2, 1954, began a series of widely publicized unsolved murders in and around Vanderburgh and Gibson Counties, Indiana. After Leslie "Mad Dog" Irvin was arrested April 8, 1955, area newspapers, responding to a public relations release from the Evansville Police Department, said Irvin had confessed to the six crimes.

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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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