434 U.S. 257 (1978), 76-5325, Browder v. Director, Dept. of Corrections

Docket Nº:No. 76-5325
Citation:434 U.S. 257, 98 S.Ct. 556, 54 L.Ed.2d 521
Party Name:Browder v. Director, Dept. of Corrections
Case Date:January 10, 1978
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 257

434 U.S. 257 (1978)

98 S.Ct. 556, 54 L.Ed.2d 521

Browder

v.

Director, Dept. of Corrections

No. 76-5325

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 10, 1978

Argued October 31, 1977

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

After unsuccessful efforts to overturn his state court conviction on direct appeal and state collateral attack, petitioner sought a writ of habeas corpus in a Federal District Court, which on October 21, 1975, ordered his release from respondent Corrections Director's custody unless the State retried him within 60 days. The court held no evidentiary hearing, but based its order on the habeas corpus petition, respondent's "motion to dismiss," and the state court record. Twenty-eight days after entry of the order, respondent moved for a stay of the conditional release order and for an evidentiary hearing. The District Court granted the motion, but, after a hearing, ruled, on January 26, 1976, that the writ of habeas corpus was properly issued. Respondent immediately filed a notice of appeal seeking review of both the October 21 and January 26 orders, and the Court of Appeals reversed. Federal Rule App.Proc. 4(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 2107 require that a notice of appeal in a civil case be filed within 30 days of entry of the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken, but, under Rule 4(a), the running of time for filing an appeal may be tolled by a timely motion filed in the district court pursuant to Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 52(b) or 59.

Held: The Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to review the original October 21 order because respondent's motion for a stay and an evidentiary hearing (in essence a motion for rehearing or reconsideration) was untimely under Rule 52(b) or 59 and hence could not toll the running of the "mandatory and jurisdictional" 30-day time limit of Rule 4(a). Pp. 264-271.

(a) The October 21 order was final for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2253, which provides for an appeal in a habeas corpus proceeding from a "final order." The District Court discharged its duty under 28 U.S.C. § 2243 "summarily [to] hear and determine the facts" by granting the habeas corpus petition on the state court record, and the absence of an evidentiary hearing, whether error or not, did not render the release order nonfinal. Pp. 265-267.

(b) Habeas corpus is a civil proceeding, and Rules 52(b) and 59 were applicable. While the procedures set forth in the habeas corpus

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statutes apply during the pendency of such a proceeding and Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 81(a)(2) recognizes the supremacy of such procedures over the Federal Rules, the habeas [98 S.Ct. 558] corpus statutes say nothing about the proper method for obtaining correction of asserted errors after judgment, whether on appeal or in the district court. Accordingly, the timeliness of respondent's postjudgment motion was governed by Rule 52(b) or 59. Pp. 267-271.

534 F.2d 331, reversed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 272.

POWELL, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case requires us to decide whether the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to review an order directing petitioner's discharge from respondent's custody because respondent's appeal was untimely. In order to resolve this question, we must consider the applicability of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 52(b) and 59 in habeas corpus proceedings. Because we conclude that the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction, we reverse.1

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I

On January 29, 1971, a teenage girl reported to Chicago police that she had been raped. She gave a physical description of her assailants to one officer and told another officer that one of her attackers was named "Browder," was about 17 years old, and lived in the 4000 block of West Monroe. On the basis of this information and further investigation, the police focused on petitioner's brother, Tyrone Browder, whose name was in the files of the Youth Division of the Chicago Police Department. A telephone conversation between a Youth Division officer and Mrs. Lucille Browder shifted the officers' suspicions from Tyrone to petitioner, and Mrs. Browder agreed to keep both her sons at home until the police arrived to talk to them. Four officers interviewed petitioner and his brother, both of whom denied knowledge of the rape. The officers arrested the brothers along with two other teenage Negro males who were present at the Browder home. The four arrestees were taken to the police station, where another officer noticed that petitioner fit the description of the assailant in a rape that had taken place on January 30. In separate lineups, each complainant identified petitioner as her assailant. After being informed of his rights as required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), petitioner confessed

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to the second rape but denied having committed the rape on January 29.

At his trial for the January 30 rape, petitioner moved unsuccessfully to suppress the lineup identification and the confession on grounds unrelated to the lawfulness of his arrest, which petitioner did not challenge. On direct appeal, however, petitioner argued that the identification and confession were the fruits of an unlawful arrest, effected without probable cause and without a warrant. The Illinois intermediate appellate court invoked its contemporaneous objection rule and held that petitioner had waived this claim. Petitioner's efforts to obtain review of this claim on direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court and on state collateral attack fared no better.

Petitioner [98 S.Ct. 559] met with success at last when he petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court. On October 21, 1975, the District Court issued an opinion and order directing that petitioner be released from custody unless the State retried him within 60 days. The court did not hold an evidentiary hearing, but it found on the basis of the petition, the respondent's "motion to dismiss,"2 and the state court record that the police lacked probable cause to arrest petitioner on the evening of January 31, 1971. Unable to conclude that the taint of the unlawful arrest had been dissipated when the identification and confession were obtained, the court held that both were inadmissible.3

On November 18, or 28 days after entry of the District

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Court's order, respondent filed with the District Court a motion "to Further Stay the Execution of the Writ of Habeas Corpus and to Conduct an Evidentiary Hearing." Respondent submitted that the state court record was inadequate, and that the District Court had "erred in granting the writ without first conducting an evidentiary hearing to determine if in fact petitioner was arrested without probable cause and, if so, whether his confession was thereby tainted." App. 118. Respondent cited Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293 (1963), and United States ex rel. McNair v. New Jersey, 492 F.2d 1307 (CA3 1974), as authority for his asserted right to an evidentiary hearing, but did not identify the source of the court's authority to consider the motion.

The District Court nevertheless entertained the motion, granted a stay of execution on December 8, and, on December 12, set a date for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of probable cause. The court noted that the inadequacy of the state trial record had not been raised in respondent's "motion to dismiss," but concluded "that the request for an evidentiary hearing should not be denied solely because it is untimely."4 App. 120. Petitioner moved immediately to vacate the orders granting a stay and an evidentiary hearing on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction to enter them. Petitioner explained that, because the period of time prescribed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for a motion for a new trial or to alter or amend a judgment had elapsed,5 the District

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Court "no longer [98 S.Ct. 560] ha[d] jurisdiction to alter or amend its final order of October 21, 1975, and the orders whose vacatur is sought are void orders." Id. at 122.6

The evidentiary hearing was held nevertheless on January 7, 1976, and on January 26, 1976, the District Court ruled: "[T]he writ of habeas corpus was properly issued on October 21, 1975. The motion to reconsider is therefore DENIED." Id. at 161. Respondent immediately filed a notice of appeal seeking review of the order of October 21 as well as the order of January 26. Petitioner maintained, consistently, that the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to review the original order granting relief, since respondent's notice of appeal was not filed within 30 days of that order, and the time for appeal had not been tolled by respondent's untimely postjudgment

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motion. See n. 5, supra. Even if the order of January 26 were construed as a denial of relief from judgment under Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 60(b), as to which the appeal would have been timely, petitioner argued that the Court of Appeals would have jurisdiction only to review that order for abuse of discretion.7 Respondent disclaimed reliance on Rule 60(b), insisting instead that the order of October 21 was not a final order and that a timely appeal had been taken from the final order of January 26.8

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The Court of Appeals did not address the question of its appellate jurisdiction except to observe, in a cryptic footnote, that it did not have to consider "whether there was an untimely appeal" on the issue whether petitioner's confession was admissible under Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590 (1975). The court reversed the District Court without a published opinion, holding that the police had had probable cause to arrest petitioner. Judgt. order reported at 534 F.2d 331 (CA7 1976). Rehearing was denied. We granted certiorari. [98 S.Ct. 561] 429 U.S. 1072...

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