395 U.S. 327 (1969), 749, Rodriquez v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 749
Citation:395 U.S. 327, 89 S.Ct. 1715, 23 L.Ed.2d 340
Party Name:Rodriquez v. United States
Case Date:June 02, 1969
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 327

395 U.S. 327 (1969)

89 S.Ct. 1715, 23 L.Ed.2d 340

Rodriquez

v.

United States

No. 749

United States Supreme Court

June 2, 1969

Argued March 26, 1969

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Petitioner, allegedly of Mexican descent with a limited knowledge of English, was convicted on several narcotics charges. Immediately after petitioner was sentenced in June, 1963, his retained counsel indicated orally that petitioner wished to appeal in forma pauperis. The trial judge, who did not advise petitioner of his right of appeal, told petitioner's counsel that all motions had to be in writing, and adjourned court. No written motions were filed, and petitioner's counsel did not submit a written notice of appeal within the 10-day limit. When petitioner later tried to file such a notice himself, the trial judge ruled that the expiration of the appeal period deprived the court of jurisdiction. Petitioner sought relief in the Court of Appeals, alleging that he told counsel to perfect an appeal, but that counsel had failed to do so. That court denied petitioner's motion for lack of jurisdiction, and also refused habeas corpus. Petitioner thereafter brought this action for post-conviction relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The District Court denied relief, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, both courts relying on a Ninth Circuit rule requiring a defendant who claims that he has been deprived of his right of appeal to disclose the errors to be claimed on appeal and to show that denial of an appeal had caused prejudice.

Held:

1. The Ninth Circuit rule is invalid, since (1) it makes an indigent defendant (who must prepare his petition under § 2255 without assistance of counsel) face "the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence" and (2) it requires the sentencing court to screen out supposedly unmeritorious appeals in summary fashion, a procedure rejected in Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438. P. 330.

2. Under the circumstances of this case, including the length of time since petitioner was sentenced, the trial judge's failure to advise him of his right to appeal, and failure to inquire into the circumstances surrounding petitioner's attempt to make an in forma pauperis motion, no hearing is required, and the case is remanded to the District Court, where petitioner should be resentenced so that he may perfect his appeal as prescribed by the applicable rules. Pp. 331-332.

387 F.2d 117, reversed and remanded.

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MARSHALL, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner brought this suit for post-conviction relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, alleging that, after his conviction on several narcotics charges, he had been improperly denied his right to appeal. Petitioner was sentenced to 11 concurrent 20-year terms on June 20, 1963. Immediately after the sentencing, petitioner's retained counsel attempted to make a motion requesting leave for petitioner to proceed in forma pauperis. The trial judge cut petitioner's counsel off, saying that all motions had to be in writing. Without making any further inquiry, he adjourned the court. No written motions were ever filed, and petitioner's counsel did not submit a notice of appeal within the 10-day period specified by the applicable rule.1 On August 7, 1963, after the time had expired, petitioner attempted to file a notice of appeal himself. He declared that an oral notice had been given at trial. The trial judge ruled that the expiration of the appeal period deprived the court of jurisdiction. Petitioner then sought relief in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He alleged that he had told his counsel to perfect an appeal, but that counsel had failed to do so. The Ninth Circuit denied petitioner's motion for lack of jurisdiction, citing United States v. Robinson, 361 U.S. 220 (1960). It also refused habeas corpus.

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This action was commenced on February 15, 1966. Petitioner alleged that he was of Mexican descent and that his knowledge of English was limited. He further contended that his retained counsel had...

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