99 F.Supp. 208 (E.D.N.C. 1951), 449, Daniels v. Crawford

Docket Nº:449
Citation:99 F.Supp. 208
Party Name:Daniels v. Crawford
Case Date:July 12, 1951
Court:United States District Courts, 4th Circuit, Eastern District of North Carolina

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99 F.Supp. 208 (E.D.N.C. 1951)

DANIELS et al.



No. 449-B.

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Raleigh Division.

July 12, 1951

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Herman L. Taylor, Raleigh, N.C., O. John Rogge and Murray Gordon (of Rogge, Fabrican, Gordon & Goldman), New York City, for petitioners.

Ralph Moody, Asst. Atty. Gen., R. Brookes Peters, Jr., Gen. Counsel State Highway & Public Works Commission, Raleigh, N.C., for respondent.

GILLIAM, District Judge.

The petitioners are Negro boys who were 17 and 18 years of age, respectively, at the date of their trial in the Superior Court of Pitt County, North Carolina, which began on the 30th day of May, 1949. They were charged with first degree murder, and, following a jury verdict of 'guilty', were sentenced to die.

Lloyd Ray was arrested without a warrant a day or two following the murder, by the Sheriff of Pitt County and certain other enforcement officers upon information justifying arrest without warrant under North Carolina Statute G.S. Sec. 15-41; he was taken to Williamston, the county seat of Martin County, which adjoins Pitt County, for safekeeping, and during the automobile trip to the Martin County jail, a distance of less than fifty miles, he stated that he had

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participated in the murder, and related some of the details of how it was accomplished; Bennie was arrested without a warrant, also upon information justifying such action, by the Sheriff and other officers on the day following the arrest of Lloyd Ray, and he too was taken to Williamston for incarceration; on the way to Williamston Bennie admitted his participation in the murder, and later each petitioner signed a written confession which was introduced by the State at the trial.

The indictment was found by a Grand Jury sitting at the March Term, 1949, of Pitt County Superior Court, and upon its return, it having been made to appear that the petitioners were without counsel and that they were financially unable to obtain counsel, the Court appointed two members of the Pitt County Bar, of experience and in good standing, to represent them. Upon arraignment at that Term the petitioners entered pleas of 'not guilty', and the cause was continued for the Term. Thereupon the presiding Judge committed the petitioners to the care and custody of the North Carolina State Hospital for the Insane, at Goldsboro, and to Dr. I. C. Long, M.D., an expert psychiatrist, for the purpose of study of their mental condition. When at the next term, that is, April Term, 1949, it appeared that the examination at the State Hospital had not been completed, the cause was continued upon motion of petitioners' counsel until the May Term, 1949, at which term, as above indicated, it was tried. When it was made to appear to the presiding Judge at the April Term, 1949, that petitioners had obtained counsel of their own choice, that is, Mr. Herman L. Taylor and Mr. C. J. Gates, both now of counsel for them, the counsel earlier appointed by the Court were permitted to withdraw. Prior to the call of the case for trial, the petitioners had been found sane by the staff of the State Hospital at Goldsboro.

When the case was called for trial at the May Term, 1949, counsel for petitioners for the first time presented a motion to quash the indictment and a challenge to the array of the trial jury, alleging systematic and purposeful exclusion of Negroes from jury service solely on account of race. The Court ruled that, as the motion to quash was made after pleading to the indictment, it law within the discretion of the Court whether it would allow or deny the motion and the challenge. The trial Judge then proceeded to hear evidence on this question from both the State and the petitioners, and upon such evidence overruled both the motion to quash and the challenge to the array.

During the progress of the trial of the State offered the confessions of the petitioners. Upon objection made on the ground that the confessions were procured by coercion and were, therefore, not voluntary, the Judge, in accord with the practice and procedure in North Carolina in such situations, heard evidence from the State and the petitioners in the absence of the jury, and concluded that the confessions were made without offer of reward or hope or reward, freely and voluntarily, that they were not extorted by either coercion, intimidation, or exhibition of any force or treat. Having so found, the Court overruled the objections and the confessions were admitted as evidence for the jury's consideration. The jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree as to each petitioner, and as such verdict was not accompanied by a recommendation of life imprisonment- which by North Carolina State is permitted- the presiding Judge sentenced both petitioners to death, such being the mandatory punishment for murder in the first degree in the absence of a recommendation by the jury.

The petitioners, with the permission of the Court, appealed in forma pauperis to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, and by order of the Court petitioners were allowed sixty days from the date of the judgment in which to make out and serve a case on appeal upon the Solicitor of the District, and the Solicitor was allowed thirty days after such service to serve his counter-case or exceptions; the judgment against the petitioners was entered on June 6, 1949, and the petitioners' case on appeal was served on the Solicitor on August 6, 1949, one day after the expiration of the sixty days allowed by the Court. Within the thirty days allowed, following service of

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petitioners' case on appeal, the Solicitor filed a number of exceptions and also a motion to strike out the petitioners' case on appeal, because not served within the sixty days allowed. When it became apparent that the case could not be docketed by September 27, 1949, which was the last day for docketing appeals from the Judicial District which embraces Pitt County, the petitioners, through their counsel, on September 27, 1949, filed a petition for writ of certiorari before the Supreme Court of North Carolina, praying that they be allowed to docket the appeal which they duly noted at the May 30, 1949 Term of the Superior Court of Pitt County, setting forth that as the case on appeal in their cause had not been settled they could not docket said case within the time...

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