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Rothgery v. Gillespie County TX

Docket No.: 07-440
Certiorari Granted: Dec 3 2007
Argued: March 17, 2008
Decided: June 23, 2008

PartyNames: Walter A. Rothgery v. Gillespie County, Texas
Petitioner: Walter A. Rothgery
Respondent: Gillespie County, Texas

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Walter A. Rothgery
v.
Gillespie County, Texas
554 U.S. ____ (2008)
Question Presented:

The Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches when "adversary judicial proceedings have been initiated." Kirby v. Illinois, 406 U.S. 682, 688 (1972). This Court has held that when a defendant is arrested, "arraigned on [an arrest] warrant before a judge," and "committed by the court to confinement," "[t]here can be no doubt . . . that judicial proceedings ha[ve] been initiated." Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, 399 (1977). In this case, petitioner was arrested and brought before a magistrate judge who informed petitioner of the accusation against him, found probable cause that he had committed the offense based on a police officer's sworn affidavit, and committed him to jail pending trial or the posting of bail. The question presented is whether the Fifth Circuit correctly held--in a decision that conflicts with those of other federal courts of appeals and state courts of last resort-- that adversary judicial proceedings nevertheless had not commenced, and petitioner's Sixth Amendment rights had not attached, because no prosecutor was involved in petitioner's arrest or appearance before the magistrate.

Question:

Did the Fifth Circuit err in holding that Rothgery's right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment was not implicated when he was denied counsel at the time of his initial hearing for being a felon in possession of a firearm but the hearing was conducted without the involvement of a prosecutor?

Holding: judgment vacated and remanded
Vote: 8-1
Opinion By:
Read ROTHGERY V. GILLESPIE COUNTY TX opinion (PDF)
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