Wilbert Rideau v. State of Louisiana
Docket No. 1963-630 373 U.S. 723, 10 L.Ed.2d 663, 83 S.Ct. 1417 ( 1963)
Argued April 29, 1963. Decided June 3, 1963.
A constitutional question is raised in Rideau because a television station broadcast on three consecutive days a sheriff's interview that contained a confession of an arrested suspect. The question is whether these broadcasts make impossible the selection of an impartial jury in the geographical area of its viewers. The answer given by the Court is an unequivocal yes.
Nineteen-year-old William Rideau, at 6:55 P.M., on February 16, 1961, entered the Gulf National Bank at Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. At pistol point, he ordered three bank employees -- Julia Ferguson, Dora McCain, and Jay Hickman -- to fill a suitcase with money. He then forced them into Ferguson's car and had Ferguson drive them to an uninhabited area outside town. Once there, he pushed them out of the car, lined them up, and fired six shots. When Ferguson, who was still alive after the shooting, attempted to rise to her feet, Rideau stabbed her to death with his hunting knife.
Several hours later Rideau was apprehended, arrested, and confined to the Calcasieu Parish jail. Without benefit of counsel or being advised of his right to counsel, he made oral and written confessions that very night. The very next morning, a twenty-minute film with sound track was made of the sheriff of Calcasieu Parish interviewing Rideau in jail. During the interview, Rideau was "flanked by the sheriff and two state troopers," and he confessed to the crime, according to the Court, "in response to leading questions by the sheriff" (725).