Pointer v. Texas/Concurrence Stewart

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927101Pointer v. Texas — ConcurrencePotter Stewart
Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Concurring Opinions

United States Supreme Court

380 U.S. 400

Pointer  v.  Texas

 Argued: March 15, 1965. --- Decided: April 5, 1965

Mr. Justice STEWART, concurring in the result.

I join in the judgment reversing this conviction, for the reason that the petitioner was denied the opportunity to cross-examine, through counsel, the chief witness for the prosecution. But I do not join in the Court's pronouncement which makes 'the Sixth Amendment's right of an accused to confront the witnesses against him * * * obligatory on the States.' That questionable tour de force seems to me entirely unnecessary to the decision of this case, which I think is directly controlled by the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee that no State shall 'deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.'

The right of defense counsel in a criminal case to cross-examine the prosecutor's living witnesses is '(o)ne of the fundamental guaranties of life and liberty,' [1] and 'one of the safeguards essential to a fair trial.' [2] It is, I think, as indispensable an ingredient as the 'right to be tried in a courtroom presided over by a judge.' [3] Indeed, this Court has said so this very Term. Turner v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 466, 472 473, 85 S.Ct. 546, 549-550, 13 L.Ed.2d 424. [4]

Here that right was completely denied. Therefore, as the Court correctly points out, we need not consider the case which could be presented if Phillips' statement had been taken at a hearing at which the petitioner's counsel was given a full opportunity to cross-examine. See West v. State of Louisiana, 194 U.S. 258, 24 S.Ct. 650, 48 L.Ed. 965.


  1. Kirby v. United States, 174 U.S. 47, 55, 19 S.Ct. 574, 577, 43 L.Ed. 890.
  2. Alford v. United States, 282 U.S. 687, 692, 51 S.Ct. 218, 219, 75 L.Ed. 624.
  3. Rideau v. State of Louisiana, 373 U.S. 723, 727, 83 S.Ct. 1417, 1419, 10 L.Ed.2d 663.
  4. See also In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 75 S.Ct. 623, 99 L.Ed. 942, where the Court said that 'due process requires as a minimum that an accused be given a public trial after reasonable notice of the charges, have a right to examine witnesses against him, call witnesses on his own behalf, and be represented by counsel.' 349 U.S., at 134, 75 S.Ct., at 624.

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).

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