Caritativo v. People of the State of California Rupp v. Dickson, Nos. 561

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; HARLAN; FRANKFURTER
Citation357 U.S. 549,2 L.Ed.2d 1531,78 S.Ct. 1263
PartiesBart Luis CARITATIVO, Petitioner, v. The PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA and Fred R. Dickson, Acting Warden. William Francis RUPP, Petitioner, v. Fred R. DICKSON, Acting Warden
Decision Date30 June 1958
Docket Number562,Nos. 561

357 U.S. 549
78 S.Ct. 1263
2 L.Ed.2d 1531
Bart Luis CARITATIVO, Petitioner,

v.

The PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA and Fred R. Dickson, Acting Warden. William Francis RUPP, Petitioner, v. Fred R. DICKSON, Acting Warden.

Nos. 561, 562.
Argued May 21, 1958.
Decided June 30, 1958.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 13, 1958.

See 79 S.Ct. 13.

Mr. George T. Davis, San Francisco, Cal., for petitioner caritativo.

Mr. A. J. Zirpoli, San Francisco, Cal., for petitioner Ruff.

Mr. Clarence A. Linn, San Francisco, Cal., for respondents.

Mr. Arlo E. Smith, San Francisco, Cal., for respondent Dickson.

Page 550

PER CURIAM.

The judgment are affirmed. Solesbee v. Balkcom, 339 U.S. 9, 12, 70 S.Ct. 457, 458, 94 L.Ed. 604.

Mr. Justice HARLAN, concurring.

Being uncertain as to the full implications of Solesbee v. Balkcom, 339 U.S. 9, 70 S.Ct. 457, 94 L.Ed. 604, I prefer not to rely on that decision in disposing of these cases.

I proceed on the premise that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a State from executing a prisoner who has become insane after his conviction. Even so, I do not believe that the procedure established by California to deal with such cases, in evident recognition of the grave interest at stake, can upon the records before us be said to offend due process.

The California statute in substance imposes on the warden a mandatory duty to make a continuing check on the mental condition of condemned prisoners and to notify the district attorney whenever he finds grounds for belief that a prisoner has become insane. Upon being so advised, it is the unqualified duty of the district attorney to submit the issue of the prisoner's sanity to a jury in judicial proceedings in which the prisoner is entitled to be heard. The prisoner is given no right to commence such proceedings himself, or to be heard in connection with the warden's initiating determination. Affidavits submitted by the warden disclose that his statutory duty is carried out under a regular procedure pursuant to which the prison psychiatric staff submits reports to the warden as to all condemned prisoners soon after their arrival at the prison, and also submits a special psychiatric report within 20 days of a scheduled execution.

This procedure, in my opinion, satisfies the test of fundamental fairness which underlies due process. At the post-conviction stage of a capital case, it seems to me

Page 551

entirely proper for the State to condition a prisoner's right to a sanity trial upon a preliminary determination by a responsible official that 'good reason' exists for the belief that the prisoner has become insane. Surely it is not inappropriate for California to lodge this grave responsibility in the hands of the warden, the official who beyond all others has had the most intimate relations with, and best opportunity to observe, the prisoner. And having regard to the natural and impelling impulse of lawyers representing condemned men to stave off their execution as long as possible, I also think it constitutionally permissible for the State to conclude that such a preliminary determination should be made ex parte. It is a legitimate consideration for California to take into account that an adversary proceeding on the issue of probable cause might open the door to interminable delaying maneuvers in capital cases, contrary to the sound administration of justice. For example, unless this Court were prepared to accept as conclusive the warden's representation that he had reckoned with the condemned prisoner's submissions, whenever such a representation is challenged, it would inevitably invite judicial proceedings to determine whether the warden had in fact acted properly on every occasion that a condemned man claimed that he had become insane.

Granting that under the Fourteenth Amendment the warden may not refrain from making a responsible and good-faith determination, no considerations of this kind are suggested by either of the records before us. The warden's affidavits show that the usual procedures were followed here; that the prison psychiatrists unanimously concluded that each of the petitioners was sane; that the warden personally observed their conduct; and that 'neither from the psychiatric reports, his own observation, nor the reports of his custodial staff has he any reason to believe (petitioners) presently insane.' In

Page 552

addition, the warden affirms his intention to institute the required proceedings to determine petitioners' sanity if and when he has 'good reason' to believe either of them insane. Petitioners do not controvert the substance of these affirmations, but simply claim that they were denied due process because the warden acted without according them an opportunity to be heard or to submit further data.

In the absence of any challenge to the warden's affirmations that he followed the customary California procedure, that is, that he determined petitioners' sanity on the basis of responsible medical advice and on his own personal observations, and in the absence of any allegation that he acted in bad faith, I cannot say that the petitioners were denied due process solely because the warden declined, in the exercise of his discretion, to consider also the professions sought to be made on their behalf.

For these reasons I concur in the Court's affirmance of the two judgments.

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER, whom Mr. Justice DOUGLAS and Mr. Justice BRENNAN join, dissenting.

By its summary disposition of these cases, the Court extends the disturbing decision in Solesbee v. Balkcom, 339 U.S. 9, 70 S.Ct. 457, 94 L.Ed. 604, where it was found that a State did not offend due process by leaving to the private judgment of its governor, in which the victim had no part, the determination of the sanity of a man condemned to death. Now it appears that this determination, upon which depends the fearful question of life or death, may also be made on the mere say-so of the warden of a state prison, according to such procedure as he chooses to pursue, and more particularly without any right on the part of a man awaiting death who claims that insanity has supervened to have his case put to the warden. There can hardly be a comparable situation under our constitutional scheme of things in which an interest so great, that an insane man

Page 553

not be executed, is given such flimsy procedural protection, and where one asserting a claim is denied the rudimentary right of having his side submitted to the one who sits in judgment.

Petitioners in both these cases have been convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. Their convictions were affirmed by the Supreme Court of California. People v. Caritativo, 46 Cal.2d 68, 292 P.2d 513; People v. Rupp, 41 Cal.2d 371, 260 P.2d 1. Subsequently,...

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25 practice notes
  • Furman v. Georgia Jackson v. Georgia Branch v. Texas 8212 5003, 69 8212 5030, 69 8212 5031, Nos. 69
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 29 June 1972
    ...776 (1968). 136. Slovenko, And the Penalty is (Sometimes) Death, 24 Antioch Review 351 (1964). 137. See, e.g., Caritativo v. California, 357 U.S. 549, 78 S.Ct. 1263, 2 L.Ed.2d 1531 (1958). 138. To others, as well as to the author of this opinion, this practice has seemed a strange way to sp......
  • Sas v. State of Maryland, Civ. A. No. 14808
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • 15 January 1969
    ...16 387 U.S. at 30, 87 S.Ct. at 1445. 17 387 U.S., at 58, 87 S.Ct. at 1459. 18 To the same effect, see Caritativo v. California, 1958, 357 U.S. 549, 78 S.Ct. 1263, 2 L.Ed. 2d 19 The rights of notice and a hearing, or opportunity to be heard, before a competent tribunal having been effectivel......
  • Ford v. Wainwright, No. 85-5542
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 26 June 1986
    ...sanity adequately effectuated that State's own policy of sparing the insane from execution. See also Caritativo v. California, 357 U.S. 549, 78 S.Ct. 1263, 2 L.Ed.2d 1531 (1958); United States ex rel. Smith v. Baldi, 344 U.S. 561, 73 S.Ct. 391, 97 L.Ed. 549 (1953); Phyle v. Duffy, 334 U.S. ......
  • Ford v. Wainwright, No. 84-5372
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • 17 January 1985
    ...v. Balkcom, 339 U.S. 9, 14, 70 S.Ct. 457, 459, 94 L.Ed. 604 (1950), and Justice Harlan's concurring opinion in Caritativo v. California, 357 U.S. 549, 550, 78 S.Ct. 1263, 2 L.Ed.2d 1531 (1958), were to the effect of due process rights on the execution of insane persons. Ford argues, however......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Furman v. Georgia Jackson v. Georgia Branch v. Texas 8212 5003, 69 8212 5030, 69 8212 5031, Nos. 69
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 29 June 1972
    ...776 (1968). 136. Slovenko, And the Penalty is (Sometimes) Death, 24 Antioch Review 351 (1964). 137. See, e.g., Caritativo v. California, 357 U.S. 549, 78 S.Ct. 1263, 2 L.Ed.2d 1531 (1958). 138. To others, as well as to the author of this opinion, this practice has seemed a strange way to sp......
  • Sas v. State of Maryland, Civ. A. No. 14808
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • 15 January 1969
    ...16 387 U.S. at 30, 87 S.Ct. at 1445. 17 387 U.S., at 58, 87 S.Ct. at 1459. 18 To the same effect, see Caritativo v. California, 1958, 357 U.S. 549, 78 S.Ct. 1263, 2 L.Ed. 2d 19 The rights of notice and a hearing, or opportunity to be heard, before a competent tribunal having been effectivel......
  • Ford v. Wainwright, No. 85-5542
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 26 June 1986
    ...sanity adequately effectuated that State's own policy of sparing the insane from execution. See also Caritativo v. California, 357 U.S. 549, 78 S.Ct. 1263, 2 L.Ed.2d 1531 (1958); United States ex rel. Smith v. Baldi, 344 U.S. 561, 73 S.Ct. 391, 97 L.Ed. 549 (1953); Phyle v. Duffy, 334 U.S. ......
  • Ford v. Wainwright, No. 84-5372
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • 17 January 1985
    ...v. Balkcom, 339 U.S. 9, 14, 70 S.Ct. 457, 459, 94 L.Ed. 604 (1950), and Justice Harlan's concurring opinion in Caritativo v. California, 357 U.S. 549, 550, 78 S.Ct. 1263, 2 L.Ed.2d 1531 (1958), were to the effect of due process rights on the execution of insane persons. Ford argues, however......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Supreme Court Behavior and Civil Rights
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 13-2, June 1960
    • 1 June 1960
    ...357 U.S. 513 (1958); Prince v. San Francisco, 357 U.S.513 (1958); Cicenia v. La Gay, 357 U.S. 504 (1958); Caritativo v. California, 357 U.S. 549 (1958); Rupp v. Dickson, 357 U.S. 549 (1958); Jones v. U.S., 357 U.S. 493 (1958); v. U.S., 357 U.S. 301 (1958); Gore v. U.S., 357 U.S. 386 (1958);......
  • The Mentally Ill in Criminal Cases: the Constitutional Issue
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 16-3, September 1963
    • 1 September 1963
    ...appear to be insane." 23 Two other cases cite Nobles v. Georgia as controlling: 177 U.S. 693; 181 U.S. 616.24 168 U.S. 398 (1897).25 357 U.S. 549 the right as a constitutional one. In Nobles v. Georgia, the Court upheld a Geor-gia statute which allowed a single judge the discretionary power......

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