Ellis v. United States, Misc. No. 743

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Citation249 F.2d 478
Docket NumberMisc. No. 743,No. 13511.
PartiesEdward J. ELLIS, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES of America, Respondent. Edward J. ELLIS, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Decision Date14 August 1957

249 F.2d 478 (1957)

Edward J. ELLIS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Respondent.

Edward J. ELLIS, Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

Misc. No. 743; No. 13511.

United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit.

August 14, 1957.


Circuit Judge BURGER with whom Circuit Judges PRETTYMAN, MILLER, DANAHER and BASTIAN concur: In its order of November 27, 1957, appointing counsel to represent appellant in Case No. 13,511, this court stated: "If counsel finds it impossible to determine without the aid of the stenographic transcript whether the appeal is frivolous or taken for delay, he shall so advise the Court." This language implies (if it does not affirmatively state) that counsel should determine for the benefit of this court whether the case warranted review. The court order of November 27 cited to counsel's attention several cases, including United States v. Sevilla, 2 Cir., 1949, 174 F.2d 879, which formulated a procedure to be followed by counsel appointed to advise the court whether an appeal should be allowed. The reference to the Sevilla case plainly told counsel that he was also to advise the court in this matter.

In the memorandum filed April 10, 1957, counsel related: "The following summarization of evidence is presented in the form which counsel believe is appropriate under the cases cited by this Court in its order appointing counsel herein and under the recent holding of the Supreme Court in Johnson v. United States 1957, 352 U.S. 565, 77 S.Ct. 550, 1 L.Ed.2d 593 * * *" After making a thorough and detailed statement of the facts, based on interviews with the

249 F.2d 479
trial judge, appellant's trial counsel, the prosecuting attorney, the court reporter, one of the government witnesses, and the defendant, counsel stated there was only one "possible" area of error; this was the ruling, made on three different occasions by two judges, that probable cause existed to make the arrest. However, on the basis of the information available to the police at the time of the arrest, i. e., the description of the culprit, the modus operandi of the crimes committed in that neighborhood, the similarity of appellant's physical appearance to their description, and the actions of appellant which aroused the officers' suspicions, counsel concluded there was not such merit even in this aspect of the appeal as to warrant further prosecution of the appeal. In effect, then, whatever language may have been used elsewhere in the memorandum, court-appointed counsel advised this court that no substantial question existed in this case.1

The dissenting statement recognizes that counsel appointed by the court to represent indigent defendants who wish to appeal their convictions owe an obligation to the court as well as to their clients. The court order appointing counsel in this case reflects this concept. The adequacy of counsel's representation of a prisoner cannot be measured in these cases by a test of whether counsel, after diligent search, has found a substantial question which warrants review by this court. Not every application for leave to file an appeal in forma pauperis is meritorious and taken in good faith; many are utterly baseless.

This court appointed as counsel for appellant two lawyers, one of whom was formerly employed on the staff of this court and both of whom served as Assistant United States Attorneys in this jurisdiction. Their joint memorandum indicates that they pursued their task with diligence and performed their designated function of representing appellant and advising the court "under the cases cited by this Court in its order * * * and under the recent holding of the Supreme Court in Johnson v. United States * * *" There is no evidence whatever that...

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8 practice notes
  • Smith v Robbins, 981037
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 19 Enero 2000
    ...606 (1974) (citing McKane v. Durston , 153 U. S. 684, 687 (1894)). (FN6). The same was true in Ellis itself. See Ellis v. United States , 249 F. 2d 478, 480-481 (CADC 1957) (Washington, J., dissenting) ("Counsel ... concluded that the rulings of the District Court were not `so clearly erron......
  • Coppedge v. United States, No. 157
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 30 Abril 1962
    ...82 S.Ct. 937 (April 1962); Ellis: Indicted (April 1956), tried (September 1956), appeal in forma pauperis denied, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 386, 249 F.2d 478 (1957), vacated, 356 U.S. 674, 78 S.Ct. 974, 2 L.Ed.2d 1060 (1958), conviction affirmed on the merits, 105 U.S.App.D.C. 86, 264 F.2d 372, cert......
  • McCoy v. Court of Appeals of Wis., No. 87-5002
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 6 Junio 1988
    ...client's appeal was meritless. After identifying a single " 'possible' area of error," Ellis v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 386, 387, 249 F.2d 478, 479 (1957) (en banc), as presumably Anders would require counsel to do, the "defense" memorandum proceeded to prove (not merely to announce......
  • Cash v. United States, Misc. No. 878.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 16 Junio 1958
    ...--------Notes: 1 Johnson v. United States, 352 U.S. 565, 77 S.Ct. 550, 1 L.Ed.2d 593 (1957); Ellis v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 386, 249 F.2d 478 2 62 Stat. 954 (1948). 3 Griffin v. People of State of Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S.Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891 (1956). 4 Id., 351 U.S. at page 2......
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8 cases
  • Smith v Robbins, 981037
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 19 Enero 2000
    ...606 (1974) (citing McKane v. Durston , 153 U. S. 684, 687 (1894)). (FN6). The same was true in Ellis itself. See Ellis v. United States , 249 F. 2d 478, 480-481 (CADC 1957) (Washington, J., dissenting) ("Counsel ... concluded that the rulings of the District Court were not `so clearly erron......
  • Coppedge v. United States, No. 157
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 30 Abril 1962
    ...82 S.Ct. 937 (April 1962); Ellis: Indicted (April 1956), tried (September 1956), appeal in forma pauperis denied, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 386, 249 F.2d 478 (1957), vacated, 356 U.S. 674, 78 S.Ct. 974, 2 L.Ed.2d 1060 (1958), conviction affirmed on the merits, 105 U.S.App.D.C. 86, 264 F.2d 372, cert......
  • McCoy v. Court of Appeals of Wis., No. 87-5002
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 6 Junio 1988
    ...client's appeal was meritless. After identifying a single " 'possible' area of error," Ellis v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 386, 387, 249 F.2d 478, 479 (1957) (en banc), as presumably Anders would require counsel to do, the "defense" memorandum proceeded to prove (not merely to announce......
  • Cash v. United States, Misc. No. 878.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 16 Junio 1958
    ...--------Notes: 1 Johnson v. United States, 352 U.S. 565, 77 S.Ct. 550, 1 L.Ed.2d 593 (1957); Ellis v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 386, 249 F.2d 478 2 62 Stat. 954 (1948). 3 Griffin v. People of State of Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S.Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891 (1956). 4 Id., 351 U.S. at page 2......
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