Mallory v. United States, 354 U.S. 499 (1957)

Federal officers arrested Andrew Mallory on rape charges. After questioning him and obtaining a confession roughly seven hours later, they brought him to a magistrate for arraignment.

In McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332 (1943), the Supreme Court ruled that confessions elicited during a period of ‘‘unnecessary delay’’ between arrest and arraignment could be excluded. A few years later, Congress adopted Rule 5(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, echoing McNabb’s ‘‘unnecessary delay’’ guidelines.

Mallory v. United States reaffirmed the McNabb decision and clarified Rule 5(a). A unanimous Court held that detaining a defendant for several hours in order to extract a confession from him while there was a magistrate ‘‘readily accessible’’ constituted an ‘‘unnecessary delay.’’ Thus, Mallory’s confession was found inadmissible.

Justice Felix Frankfurter, writing for the Court, explained that the purpose of a prompt arraignment is to safeguard individual rights since unwarranted detentions have often led to ‘‘intensive interrogation, easily gliding into the evils of the ‘third degree.’’’ Frankfurter also noted the importance of deterring officers from arresting suspects ‘‘at large’’ and then using an ‘‘interrogating process at police headquarters in order to determine whom they should charge before the committing magistrate on ‘‘probable cause.’’

Since Mallory implicated statutory law rather than constitutional doctrine, Congress was able to pass legislation in 1968 severely weakening what became known as the McNabb–Mallory rule. The Supreme Court nonetheless continued to expand rights of the accused; Mallory v. United States anticipated the more sweeping (and just as controversial) procedural dueprocess rulings of Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964), and Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

SARAH ESKREIS–WINKLER

References and Further Reading

  • Fisher, Louis. American Constitutional Law. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1990.

Cases and Statutes Cited

  • Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964)
  • McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332 (1943)
  • Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
  • Rule 5(a), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, 327 U.S. 821 (1946)
  • 82 Stat. 210 (1968); 18 U.S.C. S3501(c)(2000)

See also Arraignment and Probable Cause Hearing; Arrest; Due Process; Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964); McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332 (1943); Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966); Rights of the Accused; Self-Incrimination (V): Historical Background; Self-Incrimination: Miranda and Evolution; Speedy Trial

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