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Chambers v. Florida - Significance, Impact, Further Readings

petitioners black court decision


Isiah (Izell) Chambers, Jack Williamson, Charlie Davis, Walter Woodward (Woodard)


State of Florida

Petitioners' Claim

Four black men sentenced to death for the murder of a white man claimed their convictions were obtained "solely upon confessions and pleas of guilt extorted by violence and torture" in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Chief Lawyers for Petitioners

Leon A. Ransom, S. D. McGill, Thurgood Marshall

Chief Lawyers for Respondent

Tyrus A. Norwood

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black (writing for the Court), Pierce Butler, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, Charles Evans Hughes, James Clark McReynolds, Stanley Forman Reed, Owen Josephus Roberts, Harlan Fiske Stone

Justices Dissenting

None (Frank Murphy did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

12 February 1940


The unanimous Court threw out verdicts of murder against the four black men handed down by two juries.

Related Cases

  • Gallegos v. Colorado, 370 U.S. 49 (1962).
  • Miller v. Fenton, 741 F.2D 1456, (3rd Cir. 1984).
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