324 U.S. 42 (1945), 921, House v. Mayo

Docket Nº:No. 921
Citation:324 U.S. 42, 65 S.Ct. 517, 89 L.Ed. 739
Party Name:House v. Mayo
Case Date:February 05, 1945
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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324 U.S. 42 (1945)

65 S.Ct. 517, 89 L.Ed. 739

House

v.

Mayo

No. 921

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 5, 1945

ON MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

AND PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI

Syllabus

A petition to the federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus, by one confined under a state court sentence for burglary, alleged that the trial court, without warning and over the petitioner's protests, forced him to plead to the information without the aid and advice of his counsel, whose presence he requested. The district judge denied the petition and also denied a certificate of probable cause for an appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 466. The circuit court of appeals denied a timely application for allowance of an appeal.

Held:

1. The case is reviewable here by certiorari not under § 240(a), but under § 262 of the Judicial Code. P. 44.

2. Review here by certiorari under § 262 extends not only to the question whether the circuit court of appeals abused its discretion in refusing to allow the appeal, but also to questions on the merits sought to be raised by the appeal. P. 44.

3. The petition for habeas corpus sufficiently alleged a denial of the petitioner's constitutional right to a fair trial. P. 46.

4. The decision of the district court denying habeas corpus on the ground that the questions sought to be raised had been fairly adjudicated by the state courts was unsupported, since the basis

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of the state court decisions relied on was, in each instance, that the particular remedy sought was not one provided by state law. P. 47.

5. Where a state court adjudicates the merits of a state prisoner's federal questions, and this Court either reviews or declines to review its decision, a federal court will not ordinarily reexamine on habeas corpus the questions thus adjudicated. But that rule is inapplicable when the basis of the state court's decision is that the particular remedy sought is one which the state law does not provide. P. 48.

6. The circuit court of appeals erred in not considering whether the case was an appropriate one for a certificate of probable cause under 28 U.S.C. § 466, and also in not issuing the certificate. P. 48.

7. The motion for leave to file a petition for habeas corpus in this Court is denied, and the cause is remanded to the district court for further proceedings in conformity with the opinion of this Court. P. 48.

Certiorari granted; decisions below reversed.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

Petitioner is confined in the Florida state prison under sentence for burglary. He filed a petition for habeas corpus in the United States District Court for Southern Florida, which denied the petition without calling for a return and without a hearing. The district judge also denied a certificate of probable cause for an appeal to the circuit court of appeals under 28 U.S.C. § 466. Section 466 requires such a certificate for an appeal from a judgment denying a petition for habeas corpus when the petition complains of "detention . . . by virtue of process issued out of a State court." Since the statute authorizes either the district court or "a judge of the circuit court of appeals" to issue the certificate, the district judge, in his order, stated that petitioner might apply to a judge of the court of appeals for the certificate and for the allowance of his appeal.

Petitioner thereupon filed with the circuit court of appeals a timely application for an appeal in forma pauperis, addressed to the "Chief Justice" of that court. The application

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was submitted to the court, and by it denied, 147 F.2d 606, on the grounds that petitioner had not presented the certificate of probable cause required by § 466, and that the district judge, on the contrary, had found that no probable cause existed. The court did not consider whether the case was one requiring it or a circuit judge to make the certificate of probable cause.

The case comes here on a motion for leave to file a petition for certiorari and a motion for leave to file a petition for habeas corpus. The questions for decision are: (1) Whether this Court has the power to issue a writ of certiorari; (2) if it has, whether it may review the merits of the decision of the district court, and (3) whether the district court erred in denying the petition for habeas corpus on the grounds it assigned for its decision.

This Court cannot issue a writ of certiorari in the present case under § 240(a) of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 347(a). Ferguson v. District of Columbia, 270 U.S. 633. Our authority under that section extends only to cases "in a circuit court of appeals, or in the [United States] Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia." Here, the case was never "in" the court of appeals, for want of a certificate of probable cause.

But § 262 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 377, authorizes this Court

to issue all writs, not specifically provided for by statute, which may be necessary for the exercise of [its jurisdiction] and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.

By virtue of that section, we may grant a writ of certiorari to review the action of the court of appeals in declining to allow an appeal to it. In re 620 Church St. Corp., 299 U.S. 24, 26, and cases cited; Holiday v. Johnston, 313 U.S. 342, 348, note 2; Wells v. United States, 318 U.S. 257; Steffler v. United States, 319 U.S. 38. And not only does our review extend to a determination of whether the circuit court of appeals abused its discretion in refusing to allow the appeal, but if so, it extends

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also to questions on the merits sought to be raised by the appeal. See Holiday v. Johnston, supra; Steffler v. United States, supra. We hold that the same principles are applicable here. Hence, we are brought to the question whether the district court rightly denied the petition.

Petitioner alleges in his petition for habeas corpus and in...

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