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Rock v. Arkansas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rock v. Arkansas
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued March 23, 1987
Decided June 22, 1987
Full case nameRock v. Arkansas
Citations483 U.S. 44 (more)
107 S. Ct. 2704; 97 L. Ed. 2d 37
Criminals have a right to testify on their own behalves.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell Jr. · John P. Stevens
Sandra Day O'Connor · Antonin Scalia
Case opinions
MajorityBlackmun, joined by Brennan, Marshall, Powell, Stevens
DissentRehnquist, joined by White, O'Connor, Scalia

Rock v. Arkansas, 483 U.S. 44 (1987), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held criminals have a right to testify on their own behalves.[1]

An 1864 appropriations act allowed defendants to testify for themselves.[2]

The movement in favor of allowing defendants to testify for themselves was popular, but its critics worried that it would destroy the presumption of innocence because of the perception that someone innocent of a crime would certainly speak to defend themselves and a guilty person certainly would not. This perception is inaccurate, especially in the case of people with criminal records. Criminal pasts become admissible when they take the witness stand and can be used as evidence against the defendant's character in jury trials. In a sense, the critics' worries have come to pass, as there is a measurable difference between the conviction rates of innocent people when they do or do not testify. Juries convict those who choose not to testify at a higher rate.[3][4]


  1. ^ Rock v. Arkansas, 483 U.S. 44 (1987).
  2. ^ "Statutes at Large Volume 13 (1863-1865): 38th Congress" (PDF). Legisworks. p. 351.
  3. ^ Bellin, Jeffrey. "The Silence Penalty". Iowa Law Review.
  4. ^ Tague, Peter W. (1989). "The Fifth Amendment: If an Aid to the Guilty Defendant, an Impediment to the Innocent One". Georgetown Law Journal. 78: 1–70. Retrieved 15 August 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 7 May 2019, at 06:03
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