The Supreme Court applied the Sixth Amendment’s promise of a speedy trial to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause under the incorporation doctrine.


Klopfer had been indicted by North Carolina for criminal trespass for taking part in a sit-in demonstration in a restaurant. At Klopfer’s trial, the jury failed to reach an agreement, and the judge declared a mistrial. This meant the state could retry Klopfer, but the state prosecutor elected to persuade a court to delay the trial indefinitely. Klopfer sued and appealed in all relevant North Carolina courts without success. Finally he appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled against North Carolina. The 6-3 majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Earl Warren,Warren, Earl;Klopfer v. North Carolina[Klopfer v. North Carolina] stated the uncertainty and delay that inevitably resulted from the state’s procedure had deprived Klopfer of his liberty without due process of law. The Court also used the incorporation doctrine to apply the Sixth Amendment guarantee of speedy trial to the states. Justices John M. Harlan II and Potter Stewart dissented. In later cases, the Court often used a balancing test that generally favors the prosecution, as it did in Barker v. Wingo[case]Barker v. Wingo[Barker v. Wingo] (1972).Speedy trial;Klopfer v. North Carolina[Klopfer v. North Carolina]



Barker v. Wingo

Due process, procedural

Fourteenth Amendment

Incorporation doctrine

Jury, trial by

Sixth Amendment

Speedy trial