Hamilton v. State of Alabama, No. 32

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDOUGLAS
PartiesCharles Clarence HAMILTON, Petitioner, v. STATE OF ALABAMA
Docket NumberNo. 32
Decision Date13 November 1961

368 U.S. 52
82 S.Ct. 157
7 L.Ed.2d 114
Charles Clarence HAMILTON, Petitioner,

v.

STATE OF ALABAMA.

No. 32.
Argued Oct. 17, 1961.
Decided Nov. 13, 1961.

Constance B. Motley, New York City, for petitioner.

George D. Mentz, Montgomery, Ala., for respondent.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a capital case, petitioner having been sentenced to death on a count of an indictment charging breaking and entering a dwelling at night with intent to ravish.1 Petitioner appealed, claiming he had been denied counsel at the time of arraignment. The Alabama Supreme Court, although stating that the right to counsel under the State and Federal Constitutions included the right to

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counsel at the time of arraignment, did not reach the merits of the claim because to do so would require impeaching the minute entries at the trial,2 which may not be done in Alabama on an appeal. 270 Ala. 184, 116 So.2d 906. When petitioner sought certiorari here, Alabama responded saying that his remedy to attack the judgment with extrinsic evidence was by way of coram nobis. We denied certiorari. 363 U.S. 852, 80 S.Ct. 1638, 4 L.Ed.2d 1737.

Petitioner thereupon proceeded by way of coram nobis in the Alabama courts. The Supreme Court of Alabama, while recognizing that petitioner had a right under state law, 15 Ala.Code § 318, to be represented by counsel at the time of his arraignment, denied relief because there was no showing or effort to show that petitioner was 'disadvantaged in any way by the absence of counsel3 when he interposed his plea of not guilty.' 271 Ala. 88, 93, 122 So.2d 602, 607. The case is here on certiorari, 364 U.S. 931, 81 S.Ct. 388, 5 L.Ed.2d 364.

Arraignment under Alabama law is a critical stage in a criminal proceeding. It is then that the defense of insanity must be pleaded (15 Ala.Code § 423), or the opportunity is lost. Morrell v. State, 136 Ala. 44, 34 So. 208. Thereafter that plea may not be made except in the discretion of the trial judge, and his refusal to accept it is 'not revisable' on appeal. Rohn v. State, 186 Ala. 5, 8, 65 So. 42, 43. Cf. Garrett v. State, 248 Ala. 612, 614—615, 29 So.2d 8, 9. Pleas in abatement must also be made at the time of arraignment. 15 Ala.Code § 279. It is then

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that motions to quash based on systematic exclusion of one race from grand juries (Reeves v. State, 264 Ala. 476, 88 So.2d 561), or on the ground that the grand jury was otherwise improperly drawn (Whitehead v. State, 206 Ala. 288, 90 So. 351), must be made.

Whatever may be the function and importance of arraignment in other jurisdictions,4 we have said enough to show that in Alabama it is a critical stage in a criminal proceeding. What happens there may affect the whole trial. Available defenses may be as irretrievably lost, if not then and there asserted, as they are when an accused represented by counsel waives a right for strategic purposes. Cf. Canizio v. People...

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1018 practice notes
  • Davis v. Burke, No. 16728.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 2 April 1969
    ...158. And since the Spano decision the same basic constitutional principle has been broadly reaffirmed by this Court. Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114; White v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 59, 83 S.Ct. 1050, 10 L.Ed.2d 193. See Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 83 S.Ct.......
  • Ayala v. Wong, No. 09–99005.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • 29 August 2012
    ...in Mickens and Cronic rely on the Supreme Court's earlier usage of the phrase “critical stage,” in cases such as Hamilton v. [ Alabama, 368 U.S. 52, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114 (1961) ] and White [ v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 59, 83 S.Ct. 1050, 10 L.Ed.2d 193 (1963) (per curiam) ] to refer narrow......
  • Acosta v. Raemisch, No. 17-1131
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • 15 December 2017
    ...from the arraignment proceeding affected the entire trial because defenses not asserted were irretrievably lost); Hamilton v. Alabama , 368 U.S. 52, 55, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114 (1961) (same). To the contrary, Sixth Amendment violations that do not pervade the entire proceeding are subje......
  • Schmidt v. Foster, No. 17-1727
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 29 May 2018
    ...The Court has called these confrontations "critical stages." See, e.g., Wade , 388 U.S. at 224, 87 S.Ct. 1926 ; Hamilton v. Alabama , 368 U.S. 52, 53–54, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114 (1961).It is clearly established that criminal defendants are entitled to counsel at all critical stages of t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1015 cases
  • Davis v. Burke, No. 16728.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 2 April 1969
    ...158. And since the Spano decision the same basic constitutional principle has been broadly reaffirmed by this Court. Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114; White v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 59, 83 S.Ct. 1050, 10 L.Ed.2d 193. See Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 83 S.Ct.......
  • Ayala v. Wong, No. 09–99005.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • 29 August 2012
    ...in Mickens and Cronic rely on the Supreme Court's earlier usage of the phrase “critical stage,” in cases such as Hamilton v. [ Alabama, 368 U.S. 52, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114 (1961) ] and White [ v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 59, 83 S.Ct. 1050, 10 L.Ed.2d 193 (1963) (per curiam) ] to refer narrow......
  • Acosta v. Raemisch, No. 17-1131
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • 15 December 2017
    ...from the arraignment proceeding affected the entire trial because defenses not asserted were irretrievably lost); Hamilton v. Alabama , 368 U.S. 52, 55, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114 (1961) (same). To the contrary, Sixth Amendment violations that do not pervade the entire proceeding are subje......
  • Schmidt v. Foster, No. 17-1727
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 29 May 2018
    ...The Court has called these confrontations "critical stages." See, e.g., Wade , 388 U.S. at 224, 87 S.Ct. 1926 ; Hamilton v. Alabama , 368 U.S. 52, 53–54, 82 S.Ct. 157, 7 L.Ed.2d 114 (1961).It is clearly established that criminal defendants are entitled to counsel at all critical stages of t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • The Effect of Attorney Type on Bail Decisions
    • United States
    • Criminal Justice Policy Review Nbr. 28-1, February 2017
    • 1 February 2017
    ...v. Alabama, 399 U.S. 1 (1970).Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353 (1963).Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963).Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52 (1961).Mempa v. Rhay, 389 U.S. 128 (1967).Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)Missouri v. Frye, 566 U.S. ___ (2012).Powell v. Alabama, 287 U......
  • REFRAMING THE 'DESERVING' TENANT: THE ABOLITION OF A POLICED PUBLIC HOUSING.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 170 Nbr. 3, February 2022
    • 1 February 2022
    ...(185) Rothgery v. Gillespie Cnty., 554 U.S. 191, 211-13 (2008). (186) Coleman v. Alabama, 399 U.S. 1,7 (1970) (citing Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U.S. 52,54 (187) Hamilton, 368 U.S. at 53. (188) U.S. CONST, amend. VI; id. ("In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to... ......

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