Arizona v. Fulminante

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

499 U.S. 279

Arizona  v.  Fulminante

No. 89-839  Argued: Oct. 10, 1990. --- Decided: March 26, 1991

See 500 U.S. 938, 111 S.Ct. 2067.


After respondent Fulminante's 11-year-old stepdaughter was murdered in Arizona, he left the State, was convicted of an unrelated federal crime, and was incarcerated in a federal prison in New York. There he was befriended by Anthony Sarivola, a fellow inmate who was a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was masquerading as an organized crime figure. When Sarivola told Fulminante that he knew Fulminante was getting tough treatment from other inmates because of a rumor that he was a child murderer, and offered him protection in exchange for the truth, Fulminante admitted that he had killed the girl and provided details about the crime. After Fulminante was released from prison, he also confessed to Sarivola's wife, whom he had never met before. Subsequently, he was indicted in Arizona for first-degree murder. The trial court denied his motion to suppress, inter alia, the confession to Sarivola, rejecting his contention that it was coerced and thus barred by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. He was convicted and sentenced to death. The State Supreme Court held that the confession was coerced and that this Court's precedent precluded the use of harmless-error analysis in such a case. It remanded the case for a new trial without the use of the confession.

Held: The judgment is affirmed.

161 Ariz. 237, 778 P.2d 602, (1988), affirmed.

Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and IV, concluding that:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).