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    Felix Frankfurter Typed Letter Signed. One page, 8" x 10.5", Washington, D.C.; May 9, 1956. A letter to Judge Stanley H. Fuld, commending him for his dissenting opinion on the murder case, People v. Leyra.

    Camilo Leyra, Jr. was tried and found guilty of the murder of his elderly parents in 1950. The following year, his case was overturned at the Court of Appeals of the State of New York, and Fuld was one of the three presiding judges that ruled in favor of the reversal. The Appeals Court ruled that the defendant's confession had been obtained under duress and was not admissible.

    Leyra V. Denno would then be argued in front of the Supreme Court in 1954, during Frankfurter's tenure as an associate justice. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court's reversal, ruling that "confessions extracted in such a manner from a lone defendant unprotected by counsel is not consistent with the due process of law required by the Constitution..." The court ruled in favor of Leyra by 5 to 3 with Justice Hugo Black writing the opinion. Although Frankfurter did not preside on this case, it is clear by the content of this letter how he would have ruled.


    Writing two years later, Frankfurter commends Fuld for his stance and remarks on the case. In part: "I merely want to tell you how greatly pleased I am by your remarks, toward the end of your opinion, about the inadequacies and laziness in police and prosecutorial work that so often render abortive vindication of the criminal law. My years under Mr. Stimson, in the United States Attorney's Office, drove that truth home to me and my experience with him is to no small degree responsible for my attitude towards legal issues raised by the third degree, wire-tapping, unreasonable search and seizure, etc, etc..." Excellent content by a Supreme Court Justice regarding an important case argued before the court.

    Condition: Usual mail folds, small amounts of ink transference, two holes punched, else fine. Signature is bold.


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