Case Review

The Reliability Of The Identification Evidence
The Out-Of Court Identification Procedures
On 3 February 1974, the night of the attack, Cynthia Nadeau provided police in Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida, with a description of her attacker. She described him as being ‘a black man with a dark complexion and pock marked skin’. Tibbs, on other hand, was a light skinned man and with a clear complexion.1 Nevertheless, Delbert Tibbs was stopped by police whilst hitchhiking near Leesburg, Florida, on the basis that he matched the description given by Nadeau. He was released after questioning before being stopped again the following day, this time in Ocala, Florida. On each occasion he co-operated with the police, providing all information and identification that they had asked for and allowed himself to be photographed by the Ocala Police Department.2 The Ocala Police Department sent the pictures to Fort Myers Police, who in turn showed them to Nadeau. She was provided with only pictures of Tibbs and no comparative alternatives. On 12 February, having looked at his images alone, she identified him as the perpetrator. This was nine days after the incident. A warrant was issued for Tibbs’ arrest and on 13 February 1974 he was picked up by police in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Again, he co-operated fully with the police and chose to waive extradition in Mississippi to voluntarily return to Florida to face the charges against him.3 Tibbs was transported to Fort Myers and on 16 February 1974 he took part in a line-up identification procedure. The line-up contained three other African-American men. Following the line-up, Nadeau positively identified Tibbs as being her attacker. This was four days after having been shown his pictures by Fort Myers Police.4

Identification Evidence At The Original Trial
Tibbs’ trial commenced on 11 December 1974. He was represented by Chicago lawyer George Howard.5 During the trial state witnesses conceded that, at the time of the identification on 12 February 1974, Cynthia Nadeau did not have the opportunity to pick his pictures out of a photographic array. A police witness at trial did claim, however, that on three or four previous occasions she had been shown photographs of single suspects, and had also seen several books of photographs, without making a positive identification.6

Center on Wrongful Convictions – Delbert Tibbs Chronology 2 Tibbs v. State, 337 So.2d 791 (1976)
3 4

Tibbs v. State, 337 So.2d 791 (1976)

Centre on Wrongful Convictions – Delbert Tibbs Chronology 5 Center on Wrongful Convictions – Delbert Tibbs Chronology 6 Delbert Lee Tibbs, Petitioner v. Florida 457 U.S. 31 (102 S Ct. 2211, 72 L.Ed.2d 652) footnote 2


Tibbs’ defence team argued that the photographic ID procedures used in his case so tainted the subsequent line-up identification and trial identifications as to deprive him of due process of law.  A likelihood of misidentification offends the right to due process and can form the basis for the exclusion of evidence. Nadeau subsequently identified Tibbs in a line-up and at court during the original trial. 409 US 188 93 S. therefore. Florida state law provided that in cases of rape. State.During the trial it was established and argued by the defence attorney.7 The Applicable Law On Identification Evidence At the time of Tibbs’ trial and appeal. 7 8 9 Delbert Lee Tibbs. undermine the conviction. the fact that no other evidence placed him at the scene of the crime other than Cynthia Nadeau’s testimony did not. Ct 375. the jury could safely convict based solely on the testimony of the victim alone and without any other supporting evidence. Howard suggested that Nadeau’s former boyfriend had in fact killed Milroy and that Nadeau was lying to protect him. 72 L. The right to due process is a US Constitutional Right under the 4th and 14th amendments. and shown several photographs of Delbert Tibbs alone. 34 L. Thomas v. by itself.2d 652) – Justice O’Connor Thomas v. Biggers10. 31 (102 S Ct. In his closing argument. 167 So 2d 309 Fla.2d 401 1972 10 -2- . These arguments were unsuccessful and on 14 December 1974 the jury convicted Tibbs of first-degree murder and rape and on recommendation of the jury the judge sentenced him to death. Howard. The case of Chaney v. not during daylight hours as was suggested by Nadeau. Therefore.1964 Chaney v. State.Ed. The photographic procedure was argued to be suggestive because Nadeau was taken back to the location of the crime. suggesting that the facts indicated that the attack had happened at night. that not only did Tibbs have an alibi. However. Fort Myers. 267 So. unreliable. State9 found that identification based on photographs of a single suspect alone does not in itself violate due process. Florida 457 U. but Nadeau’s evidence was flawed and. The court should consider the circumstances surrounding the identification and apply US Supreme Court guidelines to that identification evidence to assess whether the procedures so fatally tainted that evidence as to deprive the accused of due process of law. a case concerning a stationhouse ‘showup’ or encounter which took place seven months after the crime occurred. no corroborative evidence was required if the victim could testify directly to the crime and identify the assailant8. Petitioner v. Howard argued that Nadeau was an unreliable witness.Ed.2d 65 Fla 1972 Neil v. drawing attention to discrepancies in her account of the time of day that the attack had occurred. The guidelines set out the following principles:  The court must be concerned to avoid the likelihood of irreparable misidentification in out of court identity procedures. This meant that in Tibbs’ case. the testimony must be subjected to careful scrutiny. State also established that where the sole witness is the victim. Biggers. The Supreme Court guidelines are set out in Neil v. 2211. On appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. as the procedure was so suggestive as to give rise to a real likelihood of irreparable misidentification.S. pointing to the fact that she was a regular drug user and had been smoking cannabis shortly before the attack.

the identification procedure was less reliable than possible with multiple photos of more than one person. 565 -3- . However.  However. the fact that Nadeau was shown photographs only of Tibbs would not automatically fatally taint the identification evidence. including evidence as to the identity of the accused. which included several stark differences to Tibbs’ appearance. The court disapproves of suggestive confrontations because they increase the likelihood of misidentification. evidence obtained from a suggestive confrontation does not necessarily have to be excluded due to the suggestiveness alone. Florida law provides that the appellate court can overturn the conviction and order a new trial12. the State Supreme Court.  Nadeau’s use of marijuana throughout the day and immediately before the crime.  The conduct of the photo identification procedure: by returning Nadeau to Fort Myers. The credibility of witness testimony. How The Identification Evidence Was Dealt With On Appeal When a life sentence or death sentence is imposed. and showing her photos of Tibbs only. the above issues cast significant doubt on the credibility of Nadeau’s testimony. Therefore. and  The first description given by Nadeau. the appeal court was required to make an assessment of all the circumstances of Nadeau’s identification of Tibbs in order to assess whether there was a likelihood of irreparable misidentification. d) The level of certainty demonstrated at the confrontation. By majority verdict (four judges to three). as the appellate court. Justice England and Justice Boyd. Where the evidence of the identity of the accused is not satisfactory. b) The degree of attention the witness paid. in the majority view of the appeal court. State. the State Supreme Court’s role is to assess whether there is a ‘sufficiency of evidence to convince a fair and impartial mind of the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt’11. 846 Nims v. c) The accuracy of the witness’ prior description of the criminal.  The circumstances to be considered include: a) The opportunity the witness had to view the criminal at the time of the crime. 120 So. can interfere with the jury’s findings where the evidence is not ‘substantial ’. the identification evidence 11 12 Heath v. 70 So. However. State. highlighted the following issues with the identification evidence:  The fact that Nadeau testified the crime took place in daylight. the Supreme Court of Florida overturned Delbert Tibbs’ conviction and ordered a new trial. 70 Fla 530. is ordinarily a matter for a jury. where the crime occurred.  The court must consider whether in all the circumstances the identification was reliable even if the procedures used were suggestive. when all independently available evidence suggested it took place after nightfall. Therefore. Taken together. which would aid identification. 97 Fla 330. The two opinions of the judges agreeing the majority verdict. and e) The length of time between the crime and the confrontation.

Tibbs’ attorney submitted that the credibility of the only two witnesses against the accused was so low that they should have been completely disregarded by the Circuit Court jury hearing the case. A number of factors ought to be considered. both issues which the majority opinions found to significantly undermine the credibility of her testimony. the only other witness to give evidence at the trial was Sylvester Gibbs. he found no basis for concluding there was a likelihood of irreparable misidentification and the conviction could properly be based on Nadeau’s identification evidence. 167 So 2d 309 Fla 1964. Petitioner v. The Cellmate Confession Besides the testimony of Nadeau. Tibbs v. 31 Thomas v. The dissenting judgment of Judge Roberts15 specifically considered whether the identification procedures used in Tibbs’ case were so suggestive as to fatally taint the identification evidence and violate his right to due process. the level of certainty and the time between the crime and confrontation. Addressing the cellmate conviction at the first appeal hearing in 1976. who claimed that Tibbs had confessed to the murder while they were sharing a cell in the Lee County Jail. the accuracy of prior description and opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime are both issues specifically identified by the US Supreme Court in Neil v. In addition. One key part of her evidence was the identification of Tibbs. it must be assumed to have played a fairly substantial role in Gibbs’ conviction.16 13 14 15 16 Delbert Lee TIBBS. the accuracy of the prior description. in the absence of any evidence corroborating Nadeau’s testimony. who on her own account admitted to having been under the influence of marijuana at the time of the incident. such as the opportunity of the witness to view the criminal at the time of the crime. These factors should be weighted against the effect of the suggestive identification itself. FLORIDA 457 U. Bearing in mind that this was the only corroborating evidence to an eyewitness account for which identification issues were far from clear cut. nor her account of the crimes taking place in daylight. In his analysis. 7 Jan 1976 -4- . Commentary The convictions were based primarily on the uncorroborated evidence of Nadeau.was not satisfactory and. Biggers as circumstances to consider when assessing the reliability of the identification evidence.14 The key issue raised in appeal by the defence team was that the key evidence given by Nadeau in her testimony was not tested with the proper scrutiny that should have been applied by the jury. the degree of attention paid by the witness.2d 788 (1976) St Petersburg Times – Miami Herald. 337 So. once properly scrutinised. Judge Roberts concluded that there was no rule providing for a strict barring of identification evidence obtained through suggestive procedures. Reliability is the linchpin in determining the admissibility of identification testimony.S.13 At the time of Tibbs’ trial. State. the evidence against Tibbs was not substantial enough to support the conviction. Judge Roberts does not specifically comment on or attempt to reconcile the discrepancies between Nadeau’s first description and Tibbs’ actual appearance. the law allowed a safe conviction based on the sole evidence of a victim in a case of rape. State.

appears that there is scope for building further safeguards into the trial process. appropriate consideration should have been given to whether the court should appoint an expert who could testify to the authenticity of the card. It. 29 July 1976 -5- . Two Salvation Army Officers partially corroborated Tibbs’ testimony by producing a Daytona Beach Salvation Army Transit Lodge card signed by Tibbs on the evening of 1 February and confirming that he had stayed overnight. The card represented the sole physical evidence against Tibbs and he denied the signature on it was his. implying that it may have been accepted early in the appeals process that Gibbs’ testimony added little to the case against Tibbs. where the crimes were committed. Tibbs maintained that he had not been in Orlando other than in January 1974 and denied that the signature on the second card was his. relatively little mention of the cellmate confession is made within the various appeal court judgments. The crimes were committed on 3 February. with Justice Joe Boyd pointing out that Gibbs – himself a convicted rapist. No expert evidence was given at trial to assist the jury in deciding whether or not this card was signed by Tibbs. technical. recognising the fact that confessions of this nature will often be self-serving and ensuring that the jury is fully warned of their potential lack of reliability. based on supposed confessions to a number of parties including his cellmate who (like Gibbs) was a convicted criminal who stood to gain by testifying against him. If such expert testimony raised doubts about the only physical evidence directly contradicting Tibbs’ testimony it may have affected the jury’s verdict. Cellmate confessions have similarly been adduced in criminal trials in England. This second card put Tibbs 50 miles closer to Fort Myers. allegedly signed by Tibbs. Subsequent discussions of the higher courts were focussed on the reliability or otherwise of the identification evidence. however. There is also provision for experts’ fees to be paid from court funds or at public expense (Florida Statute 92. or other specialised knowledge will assist a jury in determining a fact in issue. having been convicted of murdering retired sea captain Alf Wilkins. Tibbs had also claimed that he had only ever been in Orlando in January 1974. an expert may testify about it in the form of an opinion (Florida Statute 90. which suggested that he had in fact spent the night at the Orlando Salvation Army Transit Lodge on 4 February. Ian Lawless was jailed for life in 2002. often leading to convictions which are subsequently reversed on appeal. who was by then serving a life term – was attempting to benefit himself by testifying against Tibbs. He testified that he was some 250 miles away in Daytona Beach from 1 February through to 6 February.17 In fact. In view of the Orlando Salvation Army Transit Lodge card potentially serving to bring into question Tibbs’ honesty in front of the jury. Florida law says that if scientific. sought to discredit Tibbs’ testimony by showing another card. The card from Orlando Salvation Army Transit Lodge may have been a significant issue for the jury in deciding that they did not believe Tibbs’ testimony. 17 Palm Beach Post. therefore.The majority of judges agreed.231). Some seven years later his conviction was quashed as the reliability of the confessions was questioned. Rebuttal Evidence – Whose Signature Was On The Card? At the trial Tibbs denied that he was in Fort Myers at the time the crimes were committed. The prosecution.702). For example.

This is known as the penalty phase.who concurred with the lead opinion . the question may arise – how did Delbert Tibbs come to be convicted at all? Issues of guilt or innocence are for a jury and Tibbs looked to the 12 faces that would be deciding his fate. They were the same 12 faces that had returned verdicts of guilty for the offence of murder and rape. Following the 1972 case of Furman v. However. one African American made it through the peremptory challenges for selection on the jury but was disqualified at the last moment. Statistics show that defendants whose victims are white are four times more likely to receive a death sentence than cases where the victim was from a minority race. During jury selection. Despite there being a moratorium on the imposition of the death penalty the judge passed a sentence of death should the penalty be reinstated. the jury returned a recommendation of passing a death sentence. Mr. Justice Douglas . The number of strikes the prosecution had was sufficient to exclude minorities from sitting on a jury.he faced an all-white jury and the victim of the shooting was white. such as being unavailable for the duration of the scheduled trial or indicating an opposition to the death penalty.Jury Selection Bearing in mind the limited evidence. How did it come to be that Tibbs was tried by an all-white jury? Juror strikes were used routinely by state prosecutors to obtain all-white juries in cases where the defendant was African American. potential jurors can be dismissed for ‘cause’. The 12 white faces on the jury were not the only white faces that would be determining the sentence imposed on Tibbs. -6- . The victim of the shooting – Terry Robert Milroy – was also white. The jury considers the 17 statutory aggravating factors and seven mitigating factors. The jury is not only responsible for deciding guilt and innocence. the Supreme Court’s decision led to a de facto national moratorium on the death penalty. this decision failed to assist Tibbs as it was decided 12 years after he had been found guilty and sentenced to death on the recommendation of an all-white jury. In the case of Tibbs. Florida. Tibbs was an African American hailing from Chicago.stated: “The system is pregnant with discrimination and discrimination is an ingredient not compatible with the idea of equal protection of the laws that is implicit in the ban on cruel and unusual punishments”. The jury’s recommendation is ‘advisory only’ and can be overridden by the judge presiding over the penalty phase. Both prosecution and defence lawyers have the right to question the jury pool and take turns dismissing jurors using peremptory strikes. In Tibbs’ case. The odds were stacked against Tibbs before the trial had even started . Georgia. The faces on the jury were all white and hailed from Lee County. In the state of Florida they also retire after they have returned a guilty verdict in order to deliberate whether a sentence of death should be passed. The US Supreme Court in Batson v. Kentucky held that the removal of potential jurors on the grounds of race was unconstitutional.

The court based this finding on the United States Supreme Court decisions in the cases of Burks v. Tibbs was released from custody on 8 January 1977 on a $ 90. remitted back to the Lee County Court for a new trial. we reverse his conviction and remand for a new trial ”. He took this to mean that the Florida Supreme Court had taken a view on the “weight” of the evidence. Judge Boardman’s reasoning in Tibbs’ case was that the double jeopardy clause prohibits retrial where an appellate court reverses a conviction on the ground of insufficiency of the evidence. His analysis was that the Florida Supreme Court had reversed Tibbs’ conviction because the majority concluded that the testimony of the victim and Tibbs’ cellmate was not “believable and not substantial ” in character. The Florida Supreme Court reviewed the entire transcript of Tibbs’ trial and was left with “considerable doubt that Delbert Tibbs [was] the man who committed the crimes for which he [had] been convicted”. Justice England identified six “infirmities” in the evidence that convicted Tibbs and concluded his opinion by stating that “rather than risk the very real possibility that Tibbs had nothing to do with these crimes. therefore. Giving the lead opinion of the court. the double jeopardy clause prohibits retrial. App. thereafter. Justice Boyd stated that his decision to reverse the conviction was based upon the “weakness and inadequacy of the testimony against [Mr Tibbs] given in the trial court”. rather than its “technical sufficiency”.000 bond. He was also of the opinion that Tibbs should be “released from incarceration without further litigation” and only reluctantly ordered that a new trial should take place because he felt bound by Florida state law to do so. Rule 6.16 (b) to request that the Florida Supreme Court review the conviction to determine if the interests of justice required a new trial. Appeal To US Supreme Court . This argument was successful and in late 1976 Judge Jack Shoononver dismissed the indictment against Tibbs. Second District. Because the conviction had been reversed on the basis that the evidence was “weak” rather than “insufficient” the court held that the principle of double jeopardy did not apply.United States and Greene v. as such. In a concurring opinion. On 28 March 1979 the District Court of Appeal of Florida. first-degree murder and felony murder. The state of Florida then appealed the decision of the trial judge to dismiss the indictment on the basis that the principle of double jeopardy was not applicable in Tibbs’ case. Tibbs then argued that because his conviction had been reversed on appeal he now had the protection of the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution and.Appeal To The Florida Supreme Court – Enough Evidence To Convict? On 14 December 1974 Tibbs was convicted in the Lee County Court in Florida on a threecount indictment of rape. the jury recommended that he be sentenced to death and the trial judge duly imposed the death sentence. Massey which were cited as authority for the proposition that where an appellate court reverses a conviction solely on the ground of insufficiency of the evidence. the retrial was barred.Double Jeopardy And Re-Trials The case was. follows that where an appellate court reverses a conviction on the basis of a view -7- . It. reversed the decision of the trial judge to dismiss the indictment and ordered a new trial. After convicting Tibbs.141(4) Florida Statutes (1975) and Fla. The court gave its decision on 28 July 1976 and the decision for Tibbs was by a narrow 4-3 majority. Judge Boardman gave the leading opinion of the court. As a defendant upon whom the death sentence had been imposed Tibbs had the right under §921. He went on to say that “the reversal of [Mr Tibbs’] conviction was not on the basis of pure insufficiency of the evidence but rather was bottomed upon the majority’s view that the evidence was weak and seriously contradicted”.

and. or amount as will legally justify the judicial or official action demanded”. The court was then faced with three options as to how to proceed: (1) Vacate the previous reversal of the conviction as wrongly decided and affirm the conviction of the trial court. (2) Discharge Tibbs from the indictment on the basis that in the previous decision it had indicated “serious concern that Tibbs had nothing to do with these crimes”. giving its opinion on 7 June 1982. It went on to describe “weight” as “a somewhat more subjective concept” and stated that the “weight of the evidence is the balance or preponderance of evidence” and “it is a determination of the trier of fact that a greater amount of credible evidence supports one side of an issue or cause than the other”. The first option was rejected and rightly described as “unattractive” due to the prejudice that Tibbs would suffer. therefore. therefore. as such. In those cases it was -8- . The court held by a narrow 4-3 majority that the original decision to reverse was based upon evidentiary weight and the decision to order a retrial was affirmed. the decision to dismiss the indictment against Tibbs was reversed and a new trial was ordered. The Supreme Court disagreed with Tibbs and affirmed the decision of the Florida Supreme Court by a 5-4 majority. It analysed its previous decision to reverse Tibbs’ convictions and characterised the reversal as one based on evidentiary weight rather than sufficiency. The leading opinion was given per curiam and began by explaining the distinction between an appellate reversal based upon evidentiary weight and one based upon evidentiary insufficiency and then went on to determine whether the distinction should remain viable under Florida state law. It commented that “in effect. we reweighed the evidence supporting Tibbs’ conviction” and were. The court. Massey. The court described “sufficiency” of the evidence as a “test of adequacy” and stated that “sufficient evidence” is “such evidence. Consequently. or (3) Affirm the previous decision and order a retrial. Tibbs appealed this decision to the Florida Supreme Court and that court gave its decision on 9 April 1981. as such. The evidentiary weight/sufficiency distinction was held to have been clearly enunciated in Burks v. United States and Greene v. The court then had to apply these statements of principle to Tibbs’ case. bound to hold that “judged in light of today’s decision. a retrial was barred under the double jeopardy clause. chose the third option as the only remaining option. In effect. as opposed to evidentiary weight. Tibbs then appealed this decision to the United States Supreme Court and argued that double jeopardy applied to cases where appellate courts reversed convictions based upon the weight. The court then stated the general proposition that an appellate court should not “reweigh” evidence submitted to a jury and held that “legal sufficiency alone. The court felt unable to pursue the second option because it had already held that Tibbs’ conviction had been reversed on the basis of evidentiary weight – discharging Tibbs in these circumstances would have been contradictory because the court had stated that double jeopardy did not apply to appellate reversals based upon evidentiary weight. Justice O’Connor gave the majority opinion.taken of the weight of the evidence then a retrial is permissible. as well as the sufficiency. in character. weight. a retrial was barred by the principle of double jeopardy. is the appropriate concern of an appellate tribunal”. it ruled that the “evidentiary weight” category of appellate reversal should be eliminated from Florida state law. this action was clearly improper”. Tibbs argued that the original decision to reverse his conviction was based upon evidentiary insufficiency rather than evidentiary weight and. of the evidence.

2d 65 Fla 1972 Delbert Lee TIBBS.northwestern.1964 Tibbs v. Petitioner v. 397 So. Justice O’Connor then analysed the reasoning in Tibbs’ case and found that.Ed. 7 Jan 1976 Thomas v. 29 July 1976 St Petersburg Times – Miami Herald. Florida. 167 So 2d 309 Fla. State. 34 L. ultimately.e. the defendant is simply given another chance at an acquittal. in June 1981 Tibbs still faced the prospect of a retrial over eight years after the event. 31 (102 S Ct.S. withdrew the charges against Tibbs. Chaney v. 70 So 565 Palm Beach Post. 93 S. State. State. Biggers. Therefore. 337 So. on 7 July 1982 the State Attorney. opining that in these cases “the appellate court sits as a “thirteenth juror” and disagrees with the jury’s resolution of conflicting testimony”. after exhausting all avenues of appeal. 457 U.S. Ct 375. State. She went on to say that those cases were also authority for the proposition that a conviction would survive review whenever “the evidence and the inferences therefrom most favourable to the prosecution would warrant the jury’s finding the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”. Having already held that double jeopardy only applied to cases where the reversal was based on evidentiary insufficiency. the court held that a retrial was not barred and the decision of the Florida Supreme Court was affirmed. State. 457 U.2d 401 1972 Nims 70 Fla 530. 409 US 188. the court had simply determined that Tibbs’ testimony was more reliable than that of the victim: “This resolution of conflicting testimony in a manner contrary to the jury’s verdict is a hallmark of review based upon evidentiary weight. not evidentiary sufficiency”. Sources             Center on Wrongful Convictions – Delbert Tibbs Chronology http://www. -9- . FLORIDA. 120 So 846 Neil v. An appellate reversal and subsequent retrial in these circumstances was not oppressive because “the reversal simply affords the defendant a second opportunity to seek a favourable judgment” i. thereby ending his ordeal once and for all. 97 Fla 330. State.2d 791 (1976) Tibbs v.2d (1981) Case Review produced by Hodge Jones & Allen. Joseph D’Allesandro.Ed.2d 652) Heath v. 31 Delbert Lee Tibbs. She explained that reversals based upon evidentiary weight were those where a judge had disagreed with a jury’s resolution of conflicting evidence. 267 So.held that the double jeopardy clause operated in cases where reversals were based on evidentiary insufficiency and this standard was explained as meaning “that the government’s case was so lacking that that it should not even have been submitted to the jury”. 2211. Petitioner v. 72 L.

State Attorney James R. Despite the discrepancy between Tibbs’ appearance and her initial description of the killer-rapist. Long is the prosecutor. Tibbs arrives in Fort Myers and is identified by Nadeau from a live line-up that includes three other African American men. 397 So.Tibbs v.000 bond. Florida. photographed and released.Chronology DELBERT TIBBS 3 February 1974 Terry Robert Milroy. The Florida Supreme Court reverses the conviction and remands the case for a new trial based on the weight of the evidence . is stopped near Ocala. a twenty-seven-year-old white man. Tibbs is arrested near Clarksdale. recommending a death sentence for the murder. Judge Jack Shoonover holds that a retrial is barred by the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Florida Supreme Court holds that because the verdict was overturned on the weight of the evidence — as opposed to the sufficiency of the evidence —Tibbs may be retried . Nadeau identifies Tibbs from the photographs taken six days earlier. 337 So. 2d 1120 (1981). Tibbs is defended by Chicago lawyer George Howard.Tibbs v. some 220 miles north of Fort Myers. Mississippi. Florida. 2d 788 (1976). his seventeen-year-old white girlfriend. in Lee County. Tibbs’s trial opens before Judge Thomas Sands and an all-white jury. and waives extradition to Florida. questioned about the crime. Judge Sands sentences Tibbs to death in the Florida electric chair for the murder and life in prison for the rape. State. A Lee County grand jury indicts Tibbs for the murder of Milroy and the rape of Nadeau. The jury returns guilty verdicts. is murdered and Cynthia Nadeau. A warrant is issued for his arrest. Nadeau describes the killer-rapist as a black man with a dark complexion and pock-marked skin. Tibbs. 6 February 1974 12 February 1974 15 March 1974 16 March 1974 27 March 1974 11 December 1974 14 December 1974 24 March 1975 28 July 1976 Late 1976 8 January 1977 9 April 1981 . Florida. is raped near Fort Myers. a thirty-four-year-old African American hitchhiker from Chicago with light skin and a clear complexion. Tibbs is released on a $90.

31 (1982).S.Tibbs v. drops all charges against Tibbs. 457 U. Joseph D’Allesandro. Chronology produced by Hodge Jones & Allen. State Attorney Long’s successor. .7 June 1982 7 July 1982 The US Supreme Court affirms Florida Supreme Court’s d oublejeopardy holding . Florida.

After the trial. and left her bleeding and unconscious beside a secluded road. the Florida Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case. Tibbs was hitchhiking 220 miles north of Fort Myers when he was stopped by police. The victims were hitchhiking when. holding that the evidence did not support the verdict. Tibbs was sentence to death for the murder and received a life sentence for the rape. the victims of which were white. where he was indicted even though he did not match the original description the female victim had provided and he had a solid alibi. A few days later. An all-white jury convicted Tibbs of both the murder and rape. Florida. Long. the jailhouse informant acknowledged that he had fabricated his testimony against Tibbs in the hope of receiving leniency in his own case. they were picked up by an African American man who shot her boyfriend to death. who had handled the original prosecution. Finally.Case Summary DELBERT TIBBS Summary Delbert Lee Tibbs was convicted in 1974 of the first-degree murder of a 27-year-old man near Fort Myers. in 1982." If Tibbs had been retried. in addition to the young woman's dubious testimony. Long said he gladly would have testified as a defence witness for Tibbs Case Summary produced by Hodge Jones & Allen. by a four-three vote. according to the young woman. a rape for which he was facing a life sentence. and the rape of the man's 17-year-old female companion. Nonetheless. the photo was sent to Fort Myers. At trial. Lee County State Attorney Joseph D'Allesandro dismissed all charges against Tibbs and D'Allesandro's predecessor. declared that the case had been "tainted from the beginning and the investigators knew it. questioned about the crime. . raped her. the prosecution sponsored the testimony of a jailhouse informant who claimed Tibbs had admitted the crime. In 1976. A warrant was issued and Tibbs was arrested two weeks later in Mississippi. he was released. and photographed. Because he did not fit the eyewitness's description. although he faced a possible retrial. Tibbs waived extradition to Florida. James S. Tibbs was released in January 1977. where the female victim identified him.