Davis v. State of North Carolina, Civ. No. 1302 (Habeas Corpus No. 27).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
Writing for the CourtT. W. Bruton, Atty. Gen. of North Carolina, for respondent
Citation196 F. Supp. 488
PartiesElmer DAVIS, Jr., Petitioner, v. STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA.
Decision Date25 July 1961
Docket NumberCiv. No. 1302 (Habeas Corpus No. 27).

196 F. Supp. 488

Elmer DAVIS, Jr., Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA.

Civ. No. 1302 (Habeas Corpus No. 27).

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

July 25, 1961.


196 F. Supp. 489
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
196 F. Supp. 490
Charles V. Bell, Charlotte, N. C. and W. B. Nivens, Charlotte, N. C., for petitioner

T. W. Bruton, Atty. Gen. of North Carolina, for respondent.

BUTLER, Chief Judge.

This petition for writ of habeas corpus has been filed on behalf of Elmer Davis, Jr., who is in the custody of the State of North Carolina under sentence of death.

Petitioner was indicted by the Grand Jury at the November 2 Term, 1959, of the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, for the crime of murder while engaged in the perpetration of the felony of rape. The case was tried at the December Term, 1959, of said court, at which trial petitioner was represented by counsel; the jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, with no recommendation for life imprisonment; and, as required by state law1, a sentence of death was imposed. On appeal to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the judgment was affirmed. State of North Carolina v. Davis, 1960, 253 N.C. 86, 116 S.E.2d 365. A petition to the North Carolina Supreme Court for a rehearing was denied on November 18, 1960; and, thereafter, a petition for writ of certiorari was filed with the United States Supreme Court. Certiorari was denied on March 20, 1961. Davis v. State of North Carolina, 365 U.S. 855, 81 S.Ct. 816, 5 L.Ed.2d 819.

Petitioner claims that he was denied the "equal protection of the laws" as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in that: (1) the trial judge refused to charge the jury as requested by counsel for petitioner, and (2) the judge made certain highly prejudicial remarks during the course of the trial. Petitioner further claims that the admission in evidence of a confession made by him is a denial of his rights under the "due process" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, in that the confession was involuntary because it was obtained by coercion.

The Court has before it in this case the record on appeal and briefs of counsel for both sides in the appeal to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, a complete transcript of the trial, the petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, and the State's brief in opposition thereto.

From the record, it appears that the voluntariness of the confession and the comments of the trial judge were properly presented to the Supreme Court of North Carolina and the United States Supreme Court, and the requirements as to the exhaustion of state remedies have been met in respect to those matters; however, while the refusal of the trial judge to include certain instructions in his charge to the jury was appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court, no mention was made of it in the petition for writ of certiorari. This resulted in a failure to exhaust state remedies as to this question; therefore, it is not properly before this Court. Darr v. Burford, 1950, 339 U.S. 200, 70 S.Ct. 587, 94 L.Ed. 761; United States ex rel. Williams v. La Vallee, 2 Cir., 1960, 276 F.2d 645. However, even had this question been properly presented, instructions to the

196 F. Supp. 491
jury are normally matters of state law and procedure not involving federal constitutional issues. It is only in circumstances impugning fundamental fairness or infringing specific constitutional protection that a federal question is presented. Grundler v. State of North Carolina, 4 Cir., 1960, 283 F.2d 798

In raising the questions relating to the voluntariness of the confession and the comments of the trial judge, petitioner does not allege any facts de hors the record. Instead, he relies on the evidence presented therein, which he incorporates into the present petition. Since the complete record is before the Court which affords an ample basis for interpretation of the legal significance of the facts, this Court concludes that a plenary hearing would serve no useful purpose and the question may be properly decided upon the record. See Brown v. Allen, 1953, 344 U.S. 443, 73 S.Ct. 397, 97 L.Ed. 469; Cooper v. Denno, D.C.S.D.N.Y.1954, 129 F.Supp. 123, affirmed United States ex rel. Cooper v. Denno, 2 Cir., 1955, 221 F.2d 626.

The facts in this case are set out in the opinion by the North Carolina Supreme Court2; and, therefore, will not be repeated except as they relate to the questions raised.

Voluntariness of Confession

The murder for which petitioner was convicted was committed on September 20, 1959. Petitioner, who was an escapee serving sentences of seventeen to twenty-five years for robbery and assault with intent to commit rape, was arrested on September 21, 1959, and brought to the City Jail, Charlotte, North Carolina, where he remained until October 6, 1959, at which time he signed a statement admitting the commission of the crime. The food served petitioner at the City Jail consisted of two sandwiches twice each day, which was the same fare that the other prisoners received.

Witnesses for the State testified that petitioner was held as an escaped felon and also that several thefts which he admitted were being investigated. It was further testified that, while he was questioned about the other crimes, he was not asked about the murder until October 2 1959; and, when he denied any knowledge thereof, it was not mentioned again until October 6, 1959. On October 6, he was asked if he would like to talk to one of the members of the police force privately. He responded in the affirmative, and then, without further questioning,...

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8 practice notes
  • Davis v. State of North Carolina, No. 8453.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • November 7, 1962
    ...note 5. 8 See, e. g., Gallegos v. Colorado, 370 U.S. 139, 82 S.Ct. 1209, 8 L.Ed.2d 384 (1962). 1 Davis v. North Carolina, E.D.N.C., 196 F.Supp. 488, 2 Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 480, 73 S. Ct. 397, 97 L.Ed. 469; Stickney v. Ellis, 5 Cir., 286 F.2d 755; Wilson v. Sigler, 8 Cir., 285 F.2d ......
  • Davis v. State of North Carolina, No. 9256.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • December 8, 1964
    ...253 N.C. 86, 116 S.E.2d 365. 2 Davis v. North Carolina, 365 U.S. 855, 81 S.Ct. 816, 5 L.Ed.2d 819. 3 Davis v. North Carolina, E.D.N.C., 196 F.Supp. 488. 4 Davis v. State of North Carolina, 4 Cir., 310 F.2d 5 Davis v. North Carolina, E.D.N.C., 221 F.Supp. 494. 6 The District Court found that......
  • Davis v. State of North Carolina, No. 815
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 20, 1966
    ...for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The writ was denied without an evidentiary hearing on the basis of the state court record. 196 F.Supp. 488. Page 739 On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the case to the District Court for an evidentiary hea......
  • Nees v. Culbertson, Civ. No. 5182.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • November 21, 1966
    ...1960); United States ex rel. Sliva v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 196 F.Supp. 51 (E.D.Penn. 1961); Davis v. State of North Carolina, 196 F.Supp. 488 (E.D.N.C.1961), rev'd on other grounds, 310 F.2d 904 (4th Cir. 1962); Hammil v. Tinsley, 202 F. Supp. 76, 79 (D.Colo.1961); Morales v. Wilki......
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8 cases
  • Davis v. State of North Carolina, No. 8453.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • November 7, 1962
    ...note 5. 8 See, e. g., Gallegos v. Colorado, 370 U.S. 139, 82 S.Ct. 1209, 8 L.Ed.2d 384 (1962). 1 Davis v. North Carolina, E.D.N.C., 196 F.Supp. 488, 2 Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 480, 73 S. Ct. 397, 97 L.Ed. 469; Stickney v. Ellis, 5 Cir., 286 F.2d 755; Wilson v. Sigler, 8 Cir., 285 F.2d ......
  • Davis v. State of North Carolina, No. 9256.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • December 8, 1964
    ...253 N.C. 86, 116 S.E.2d 365. 2 Davis v. North Carolina, 365 U.S. 855, 81 S.Ct. 816, 5 L.Ed.2d 819. 3 Davis v. North Carolina, E.D.N.C., 196 F.Supp. 488. 4 Davis v. State of North Carolina, 4 Cir., 310 F.2d 5 Davis v. North Carolina, E.D.N.C., 221 F.Supp. 494. 6 The District Court found that......
  • Davis v. State of North Carolina, No. 815
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 20, 1966
    ...for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The writ was denied without an evidentiary hearing on the basis of the state court record. 196 F.Supp. 488. Page 739 On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the case to the District Court for an evidentiary hea......
  • Nees v. Culbertson, Civ. No. 5182.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • November 21, 1966
    ...1960); United States ex rel. Sliva v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 196 F.Supp. 51 (E.D.Penn. 1961); Davis v. State of North Carolina, 196 F.Supp. 488 (E.D.N.C.1961), rev'd on other grounds, 310 F.2d 904 (4th Cir. 1962); Hammil v. Tinsley, 202 F. Supp. 76, 79 (D.Colo.1961); Morales v. Wilki......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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