148 F.2d 667 (D.C. Cir. 1945), 8880, Diggs v. Welch

Docket Nº:8880.
Citation:148 F.2d 667
Opinion Judge:ARNOLD, Associate Justice.
Party Name:DIGGS v. WELCH, Superintendent D.C. Reformatory.
Attorney:Mr. Joseph Stein, of Washington, D.C. (appointed by District Court), for appellant. Mr. Charles B. Murray, Assistant United States Attorney, of Washington, D.C., with whom Mr. Edward M. Curran, United States Attorney, of Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellee.
Judge Panel:Before GRONER, Chief Justice and MILLER and ARNOLD, Associate Justices. GRONER, C. J. (concurring).
Case Date:February 26, 1945
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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Page 667

148 F.2d 667 (D.C. Cir. 1945)

DIGGS

v.

WELCH, Superintendent D.C. Reformatory.

No. 8880.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia.

February 26, 1945

Argued Jan. 19, 1945.

Writ of Certiorari Denied June 18, 1945.

See 65 S.Ct. 1576.

Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia.

Habeas corpus proceeding by Cecil A. Diggs against E. J. Welch, Superintendent of District of Columbia Reformatory. From an order dismissing the petition for writ of habeas corpus, the petitioner appeals.

Affirmed.

Page 668

Mr. Joseph Stein, of Washington, D.C. (appointed by District Court), for appellant.

Mr. Charles B. Murray, Assistant United States Attorney, of Washington, D.C., with whom Mr. Edward M. Curran, United States Attorney, of Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellee.

Before GRONER, Chief Justice and MILLER and ARNOLD, Associate Justices.

ARNOLD, Associate Justice.

This is an appeal from an order of the District Court dismissing without a hearing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Appellant had been convicted and sentenced on a charge of grand larceny after a plea of guilty. His petition for habeas corpus states that he was coerced and intimidated to enter a plea of guilty by the attorney appointed by the court to defend him. The more particular allegations of the petition, however, do not support the allegations of coercion and intimidation. In effect they amount only to a charge that the attorney appointed to represent petitioner gave him such bad advice through negligence or ignorance in connection with entering his plea that he cannot be said to have been represented by effective or competent counsel.

There is no allegation that the court did not select defendant's counsel with care and with due regard for appellant's constitutional right. We must assume that the court appointed a reputable member of the bar in whom it had confidence. The issue presented on this record, therefore, is whether a prisoner may obtain a writ of habeas corpus on the sole ground that counsel properly appointed by the court to defend him acted incompetently and negligently during the proceedings.

It is clear that once competent counsel is appointed his subsequent negligence does not deprive the accused of any right under the Sixth Amendment. All that amendment requires is that the accused shall have the assistance of counsel. 1 It does not mean that the constitutional rights of the defendant are impaired by counsel's mistakes subsequent to a proper appointment.

Page 669

The petitioner here must, therefore, rely upon the due process clause of the Federal Constitutional which guarantees him a fair trial.2 But to justify habeas corpus on that ground an extreme case must be disclosed. It must be shown that the proceedings were a farce and a mockery of justice.3 No doubt in such cases careless representation of the defendant by his attorney may contribute to the lack of due process of the trial as a whole. But if so, it is only one of the factors leading to the violation of petitioner's constitutional rights. In such a case the court has neglected its duty in failing to give the accused protection.4 The prosecuting attorneys have violated their duty as officers of the court in obtaining a conviction by proceeding in defiance of the orderly administration of justice.5 Carelessness of counsel is not the ground for habeas corpus in such a case. If relied on it must be as one of the evidentiary...

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