Kuhlman v. Wilson 477 U.S. 436, 106 S.Ct. 2616, 91 L.Ed.2d 364 (1986))
Wilson and two other guys were
suspected of robbing a store and killing a security guard.
Wilson turned himself in, but
claimed that he was not involved in the robbery, but was just an innocent
Wilson gave a physical
description of the other two guys but claimed that he didn't know who
Before his arraignment, the
police deliberately put Wilson into a holding cell with a prison snitch
Lee was told by the police
to not ask Wilson any questions, but just report back on anything he
After a few days, Wilson
admitted to Lee that he was an active participant in the robbery.
The Trial Court found Wilson
guilty of robbery and murder. Wilson appealed.
Wilson argued that his
confession to Lee had been improperly admitted in violation of his 5th
self-incrimination, but the Trial Judge found that Lee had not
'interrogated' Wilson and that Wilson's statements were spontaneous and
See Illinois v. Perkins (496 U.S. 292 (1990)).
After numerous courts had
denied Wilson relief on his 5th Amendment claim, he filed for habeus corpus on a 6th
Amendment claim that he had been
denied his right to counsel.
Wilson based his new claim
on United States v. Henry (447
U.S. 264 (1980)) which found that a jailhouse informant who asked Henry
questions outside of the presence of Henry's lawyer was a violation of the
right to counsel.
The Federal Trial Court upheld
the conviction. Wilson appealed.
The Federal Trial Court
distinguished Henry by saying
that in this case, Lee "took no affirmative actions" to get
Wilson to talk.
The Federal Appellate Court
reversed. The prosecutor appealed.
The US Supreme Court reversed
and upheld the conviction.
The US Supreme Court found
that the 6th Amendment
is not violated when the government just happens to obtain incriminating
evidence after the right to counsel has attached. "The
defendant must demonstrate that the police and their informant took some
action, beyond merely listening, that was designed to deliberately elicit
In a dissent it was argued
that Henry and Massiah
v. United States (377 U.S. 201
(1964)) specifically encompass subtle forms of questioning. The dissent
argued that in this case, the police intentionally created a situation in
which it was foreseeable that Wilson would make incriminating statements
without the assistance of counsel. In the dissent's opinion, that
constituted deliberate elicitation.