Brown v. Allen Speller v. Allen Daniels v. Allen

Decision Date09 February 1953
Docket NumberNos. 32,20,22,s. 32
PartiesBROWN v. ALLEN, Warden, Central Prison of State of North Carolina. SPELLER v. ALLEN, Warden, Central Prison of State of North Carolina. DANIELS et al. v. ALLEN, Warden, Central Prison of State of North Carolina. Re
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Mr. Hosea V. Price, Winston-Salem, N.C., for petitioner Brown.

Mr. R. Brookes Peters, Raleigh, N.C., for respondent.

Mr. Herman L. Taylor, Raleigh, N.C., for petitioner Speller.

Mr. E. O. Brogden, Jr., Raleigh, N.C., for respondent.

No. 20:

Messrs. O. John Rogge and Murray A. Gordon, New York City, for petitioners Daniels.

Mr. Ralph Moody, Raleigh, N.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

Certiorari was granted to review judgments of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Brown v. Allen, 343 U.S. 903, 72 S.Ct. 640, 96 L.Ed. 1322; Speller v. Allen, 342 U.S. 953, 72 S.Ct. 628, 96 L.Ed. 708; Daniels v. Allen, 342 U.S. 941, 72 S.Ct. 564, 96 L.Ed. 700. These cases were argued last year. As the records raised serious federal constitutional questions upon which the carrying out of death sentences depended and procedural issues of importance in the relations between states and the federal government upon which there was disagreement in this Court, we decided to set the cases for reargument. 343 U.S. 973, 72 S.Ct. 1072, 96 L.Ed. 1366. We have now heard the cases again.

The judgments of affirmance were entered October 12, 1951, on appeal from three judgments of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, refusing writs of habeas corpus sought by prisoners convicted in that state. We conclude that all required procedure for state review of the convictions had been exhausted by petitioners in each case before they sought the writs of habeas corpus in the federal courts. In each case petitions for certiorari to this Court for direct review of the state judgments rendered by the highest court of the state in the face of the same federal issues now presented by habeas corpus had been denied.1

It is not necessary in such circumstances for the prisoner to ask the state for collateral relief, based on the same evidence and issues already decided by direct review with another petition for certiorari directed to this Court.2 It is to be noted that an applicant is barred unless he has 'exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State * * * by any available procedure.' The legislative history shows that this paragraph, in haec verba, was presented to the Congress with the recommendation of the Judicial Conference. The legislative history of § 2254 has no discussion of the considerations which moved congressional enactment other than that contained in S.Rep.No. 1559. But see a similar clause § 2254 in H.R. 3214, 80th Cong., 1st Sess.; H.R. 3214, 80th Cong., 2d Sess.; S.Rep.No. 1559, 80th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 9; Report of the Judicial Conferences of Senior Circuit Judges, 1947, pp. 17—20.

The second paragraph of § 2254 has been construed by several courts of appeals. In Ekberg v. McGee, 191 F.2d 625, the Ninth Circuit refused to consider that the statute meant to deny a federal forum where state procedures were inexhaustible. The Third Circuit in Master v. Baldi, 198 F.2d 113, 116, held that the exhaustion of one of several available alternative state remedies with this Court's denial of certiorari therefrom is all that is necessary. In Bacom v. Sullivan, 181 F.2d 177, and Bacom v. Sullivan, 194 F.2d 166, the Fifth Circuit ruled that when a federal question had been presented to the state courts by at least one post-conviction procedure, certiorari on the same question having been once denied by this Court, there appeared a unique and extraordinary circumstance justifying federal examination under the Darr case. 3 (Darr v. Burford, 339 U.S. 200, 70 S.Ct. 587, 94 L.Ed. 761.)

When, in April 1948, Judge Maris presented the Judicial Conference draft of § 2254 to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, the language of the revision of 28 U.S.C., on which the hearings were being held, set out three bases for exercise of federal jurisdiction over applications for habeas corpus from state prisoners. Under the language of the bill as it then read, an application might have been entertained where it appeared (1) that the applicant had exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the state, or (2) where there was no adequate remedy available in such courts, or (3) where such courts had denied the applicant a fair adjudication of the legality of his detention under the Constitution and laws of the United States. In accepting the recommendation of the Judicial Conference, the Congress eliminated the third basis of jurisdiction. S.Rep.No. 1559, p. 9, shows the reason for this as follows:

'The second purpose is to eliminate, as a ground of Federal jurisdiction to review by habeas corpus judgments of State courts, the proposition that the State court has denied a prisoner a 'fair adjudication of the legality of his detention under the Constitution and laws of the United States.' The Judicial Conference believes that this would be an unde- sirable ground for Federal jurisdiction in addition to exhaustion of State remedies or lack of adequate remedy in the State courts because it would permit proceedings in the Federal court on this ground before the petitioner had exhausted his State remedies. This ground would, of course, always be open to a petitioner to assert in the Federal court after he had exhausted his State remedies or if he had no adequate State remedy.

'The third purpose is to substitute detailed and specific language for the phrase 'no adequate remedy available.' That phrase is not sufficiently specific and precise, and its meaning should, therefore, be spelled out in more detail in the section as is done by the amendment.'

If the substitution for 'adequate remedy available' of the present definition was intended by the Congress to eliminate the right of a state prisoner to apply for relief by habeas corpus to the lower federal courts, we do not think that the report would have suggested that a remedy for denial of a 'fair adjudication' was in the federal court. The suggested elimination of district and circuit courts does not square with the other statutory habeas corpus provisions. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241, 2242, 2251, 2252, 2253, 3d paragraph, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 2241, 2242, 2251, 2252, 2253. We are unwilling to conclude without a definite congressional direction that so radical a change was intended.

In each of these cases the District Court in determining the propriety of its granting the writ, considered the effect of our refusal of certiorari on the same questions upon direct review of the judgments of the highest court of the state. As that question, pretermitted in our ruling in Darr v. Burford, 339 U.S. 200, 214 217, 70 S.Ct. 587, 595—597, 97 L.Ed. 761, a case where no certiorari was sought here from state denial of collateral relief by habeas corpus from imprisonment, had given rise to definite differences of opinion in the federal courts, a ruling here was necessary.4 There is a similar difference in this Court.5 As other issues command a majority that upholds the judgments of the Court of Appeals, this opinion is that of the Court although it represents the minority view on the effect of our denial of certiorari. The position of the majority upon that point is expressed by the opinion of Mr. Justice Frankfurter, Daniels v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 73 S.Ct. 437. A summary review of habeas corpus practice in the federal courts in relation to state criminal convictions will be found in Hawk v. Olson, 326 U.S. 271, 274, 66 S.Ct. 116, 118, 90 L.Ed. 61, and Darr v. Burford, 339 U.S. 200, 203, 70 S.Ct. 587, 589, 94 L.Ed. 761. It is hoped the conclusions reached herein will result in the improvement of the administration of justice and leave the indispensable function of the Great Writ unimpaired in usefulness.

II. Effect of Former Proceedings.

The effect to be given this Court's former refusal of certiorari in these cases was presented to the District Court which heard the applications for federal habeas corpus upon full records of the state proceedings in the trial and appellate courts. In No. 32, Brown v. Allen, the District Court, upon examination of the application, the answer, and the exhibits adopted, without hearing argument or testimony, the findings of the sentencing judge with respect to both the composition of the grand jury and the voluntary character of the confession. These were the federal constitutional issues involved in the state trial. The record which the District Judge had before him embraced the record of the case in the North Carolina courts and this Court, including all the relevant portions of the transcript of proceedings in the sentencing court. The District Court then dismissed the petition. Sub nom. Brown v. Crawford, D.C., 98 F.Supp. 866.

In No. 22, Speller v. Allen, the petition for habeas corpus in the District Court raised again the same federal question which had been passed upon by the trial and ap- pellate courts in North Carolina and which had been offered to this Court on petition for certiorari; to wit, the jury commissioners had 'pursuant to a long and continuous practice, discriminated against Negroes in the selection of juries, solely on account of race and/or color.' The District Court had before it the record which had been filed in the Supreme Court of North Carolina on appeal. State v. Brown, 233 N.C. 202, 63 S.E.2d 99. Included in this record was the same transcript of proceedings in the trial court which had been before the State Supreme Court. In addition, the District...

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