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LYNUMN V. ILLINOIS, 372 U. S. 528 (1963)

U.S. Supreme Court

Lynumn v. Illinois, 372 U.S. 528 (1963)

Lynumn v. Illinois

No. 9

Argued February 19, 1963

Decided March 25, 1963

372 U.S. 528


Petitioner was tried in an Illinois State Court, convicted of the unlawful possession and sale of marijuana, and sentenced to imprisonment. Her conviction was sustained by the State Supreme Court, notwithstanding the admission in evidence at her trial of an oral confession obtained by threats of police officers that, if she did not "cooperate," she would be deprived of state financial aid for her dependent children, and that her children would be taken from her and she might never see them again.

Held: Petitioner's confession was coerced, its admission in evidence violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the judgment affirming her conviction is reversed. Pp. 372 U. S. 529-538.

1. Petitioner's confession, made in the circumstances shown by this record, was coerced. Pp. 372 U. S. 529-534.

2. In view of a certification to this Court by the State Supreme Court that "decision of the federal claim . . . was necessary to our judgment in this case," it cannot be said that petitioner failed properly to assert or preserve that claim at her trial and that, therefore, her conviction rests upon an adequate and independent state ground. Pp. 372 U. S. 535-536.

3. It cannot be said that petitioner's conviction did not rest in any part on her confession, because the record affirmatively shows that her confession was admitted in evidence and considered by the trial and appellate courts. P. 372 U. S. 536.

4. Admission of petitioner's coerced confession in evidence was not harmless error, even if the other evidence was sufficient to support her conviction. Pp. 372 U. S. 536-538.

21 Ill.2d 63, 171 N.E.2d 17, reversed.

Page 372 U. S. 529

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