Fontaine v. United States 8212 6757

Decision Date02 April 1973
Docket NumberNo. 71,71
Citation36 L.Ed.2d 169,93 S.Ct. 1461,411 U.S. 213
PartiesDavid X. FONTAINE, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES. —6757
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Steven M. Umin, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Samuel Huntington, Washington, D.C., for respondent.


On November 13, 1969, the petitioner was arraigned in a federal district court upon a charge of robbery of a federally insured bank.1 He executed a written waiver of his right to counsel and to a grand jury indictment, and pleaded guilty. Before accepting the plea, the trial judge, proceeding under Fed.Rule Crim.Proc. 11, addressed the petitioner personally. The petitioner acknowledged in substance that his plea was given voluntarily and knowingly, that he understood the nature of the charge and the consequences of the plea, and that he was in fact guilty. See McCarthy v. United States, 394 U.S. 459, 464—467, 89 S.Ct. 1166, 1169, 22 L.Ed.2d 418; cf. Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 242, 89 S.Ct. 1709, 1711, 23 L.Ed.2d 274. The judge then accepted the guilty plea and subsequently sentenced the petitioner to 20 years in prison.

On August 6, 1971, the petitioner filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his sentence on the ground that his plea of guilty had been induced by a combination of fear, coercive police tactics, and illness, including mental illness. The District Judge who had accepted the petitioner's plea and sentenced him to prison considered the motion but denied it without an evidentiary hearing; the District Judge reasoned that since the requirements of Rule 11 had been met, this collateral attack was per se unavailable, stating: 'When the trial court has so questioned the accused about pleading guilty, the petitioner cannot now be heard to collaterally attack the record and deny what was said in open court.' The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed on the same grounds.

Petitioner seek certiorari to review that judgment; he urges that under the plain wording of § 2255 and our decision in Machibroda v. United States, 368 U.S. 487, 82 S.Ct. 510, 7 L.Ed.2d 473, he was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his claims. Petitioner's motion for relief under § 2255 sets out detailed factual allegations regarding alleged circumstances occurring after his arrest and before his appearance in court. Those allegations describe physical abuse and illness from a recent gunshot wound that required hospitalization which was documented by records tendered in support of his petition. The records also showed that a month following the plea he was again hospitalized for heroin addiction, for aggravation of the earlier gunshot would and for other severe illnesses. Petitioner further alleges that prolonged interrogation continued during the period preceding his plea. All of this, he claims, coerced his confession, his waiver of counsel, and the uncounseled plea of guilty. It is elementary that a coerced plea is open to collateral attack. Machibroda v. United States, supra, at 493, 82 S.Ct., at 513. See also Waley v. Johnston, 316 U.S. 101, 62 S.Ct. 964, 86 L.Ed. 1302; Walker v. Johnston, 312 U.S. 275, 61 S.Ct. 574, 85 L.Ed. 830; Diamond v. United States, 9 Cir., 432 F.2d 35, 39; Crow v. United States, 10 Cir., 397 F.2d 284, 285—286. It is equally clear that §...

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    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • July 25, 1979
    ...perforce appropriate. Cf. Commonwealth v. Foster, 368 Mass. 100, 104 n. 3, 330 N.E.2d 155 (1975); Fontaine v. United States, 411 U.S. 213, 93 S.Ct. 1461, 36 L.Ed.2d 169 (1973) (per curiam). But here the defendant should have to rebut the prima facie validity of the waiver. See Huot v. Commo......
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