The Hughes Court (1930–41)

Criminal Justice

In what case did the Hughes Court invalidate a confession obtained by the Texas Rangers?

The Hughes Court unanimously ruled in White v. Texas (1940) that the rape conviction of an illiterate, African American man cannot stand because of the circumstances of his confession. The evidence showed that several Texas Rangers took the man out to the woods and beat him until he confessed. One Texas Ranger testified that he could not even remember how many times he had taken the man out of jail into the woods for these interrogations. Justice Hugo Black wrote that such practice did not comport with the Constitution: “Due process of law, preserved for all by our Constitution, commands that no such practice as that disclosed by this record shall send any accused to his death.”


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