Jennings v. State of Illinois La Frana v. State of Illinois Sherman v. State of Illinois, Nos. 95

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtVINSON
Citation96 L.Ed. 119,342 U.S. 104,72 S.Ct. 123
PartiesJENNINGS v. STATE OF ILLINOIS. LA FRANA v. STATE OF ILLINOIS. SHERMAN v. STATE OF ILLINOIS
Decision Date03 December 1951
Docket NumberNos. 95,96 and 375

342 U.S. 104
72 S.Ct. 123
96 L.Ed. 119
JENNINGS

v.

STATE OF ILLINOIS. LA FRANA v. STATE OF ILLINOIS. SHERMAN v. STATE OF ILLINOIS.

Nos. 95, 96 and 375.
Argued Nov. 5, 6, 1951.
Decided Dec. 3, 1951.

Page 105

Mr. Nathaniel L. Nathanson, Chicago, Ill., for petitioners.

Mr. Calvin Sawyier, Chicago, Ill., for petitioner Talbot Jennings.

Mr. William C. Wines, Chicago, Ill., for respondents.

Mr. Chief Justice VINSON delivered the opinion of the Court.

Each of the three petitioners is confined in an Illinois penitentiary following conviction of serious crimes. Petitioners' factual allegations need not be described, except to note petitioners' specific claims that confessions introduced at their trials were wrung from them by force and violence. Although such allegations set forth a prima facie violation of federal constitutional rights,1 there has been no determination, either by review of the trial record or by hearing of evidence, as to whether petitioners, in fact, are being imprisoned in violation of their rights under the Constitution.

Prior to the case of United States ex rel. Bongiorno v. Ragen, D.C.N.D.Ill.1944, 54 F.Supp. 973, 975—976,

Page 106

inmates of Illinois penitentiaries were denied the right of sending papers to the courts. Since that decision, many Illinois prisoners have presented claims of denial of constitutional rights and courts have sought to determine what, if any, is the post-conviction remedy available in Illinois to raise such claims. The problem has been here before. White v. Ragen, 1945, 324 U.S. 760, 65 S.Ct. 978, 89 L.Ed. 1348; Woods v. Nierstheimer, 1946, 328 U.S. 211, 66 S.Ct. 996, 90 L.Ed. 1177; Carter v. People of State of Illinois, 1946, 329 U.S. 173, 67 S.Ct. 216, 91 L.Ed. 172; Foster v. People of State of Illinois, 1947, 332 U.S. 134, 67 S.Ct. 1716, 91 L.Ed. 1955; Marino v. Ragen, 1947, 332 U.S. 561, 68 S,.ct. 240, 92 L.Ed. 170; Loftus v. People of State of Illinois, 1948, 334 U.S. 804, 68 S.Ct. 1212, 92 L.Ed. 1737; Id., 1949, 337 U.S. 935, 69 S.Ct. 1511, 93 L.Ed. 1741. Finally, in Young v. Ragen, 1949, 337 U.S. 235, 69 S.Ct. 1073, 93 L.Ed. 1333, it became apparent that unless habeas corpus was available, the Illinois courts afforded no remedy for the eight prisoners then before the Court, including petitioner Sherman, now here in No. 375. On remand to the Criminal Court of Cook County, that court held that habeas corpus was not an appropriate remedy, a holding that could not be reviewed by the Illinois Supreme Court under state practice.

Meanwhile, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act2 to provide a remedy for—'(a)ny person imprisoned in the penitentiary who asserts that in the proceedings which resulted in his conviction there was a substantial denial of his rights under the Constitution of the United States or of the State of Illinois or both * * *.' Under this Act, the court in which conviction took place is authorized to grant relief in a proceeding initiated by the filing of a petition setting forth the respects in which a prisoner's constitutional rights were violated. The State may then answer or move to dismiss the petition and the trial court is authorized to receive oral testimony

Page 107

or documentary proof. A final judgment on a petition filed under the Act is made reviewable in the Illinois Supreme Court on writ of error.3

In People v. Dale, 1950, 406 Ill. 238, 92 N.E.2d 761, the Illinois Supreme Court sustained the Post-Conviction Hearing Act against attack on Illinois constitutional grounds. The Act was described as providing a new proceeding to afford the required inquiry into the constitutional integrity of a conviction. In the Dale case, the court also stated that the Act does not afford a rehearing of issues that had already been finally adjudicated, referring to cases where the Illinois Supreme Court had made such an adjudication.

In the three cases now before the Court, petitioners presented their factual allegations to the trial court in petitions filed under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act. The State's Attorney filed motions to dismiss on grounds of res judicata and failure to state a cause of action and the trial court dismissed each petition without conducting a hearing or otherwise determining the factual issues presented. The Illinois Supreme Court dismissed writ of error in each case without argument and without opinion, entering form orders providing that—'after having examined and reviewed the petition and record in the post conviction hearing the same is found to disclose no violation or denial of any substantial constitutional rights of the petitioner under the constitution of the United States or of the constitution of the State of Illinois.' We granted certiorari, 341 U.S. 947, 71 S.Ct. 1005, 95 L.Ed. 1371; Id., 1951, 342 U.S. 805, 72 S.Ct. 35.

Page 108

The form order entered in these three cases has been entered in each of the twenty-five cases arising under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act that have reached this Court. Certiorari has been denied in many of these cases where petitioners alleged facts which, if true, presented no federal question. In several other cases, the trial court refused to grant the State's motion to dismiss the post-conviction petition. Instead, the trial court obtained a transcript of the petitioner's trial, reviewed the entire record and found that there had been no denial of substantial constitutional rights.4 However, in the cases now before the Court, the petitions filed in the trial court raised substantial federal claims, petitioners' factual allegations were not denied by the State's Attorney and the courts below have denied relief without inquiring into the verity of the allegations or whether petitioners had waived their claims.

Again in these cases, as in Young v. Ragen, supra, the Attorney General of Illinois concedes that petitioners have alleged facts showing an infringement of federal rights. Again he agrees that petitioners are or were entitled to a resolution of the factual issues raised. But, again, the Attorney General explains the action of the state court as resting upon an adequate ground of state procedure. Citing certain language in People v. Dale, supra, he urges that the judgments below mean that the Post-Conviction Hearing Act does not provide an appropriate remedy for consideration of claims which were, or could have been, adjudicated at petitioners' trials.

Petitioners claim that they are held in custody in violation of the Federal Constitution in that coerced confessions were used to obtain their convictions. Where, as

Page 109

here, a federal claim can be raised at the trial, it may be forfeited by failure to make a timely assertion of the claim.5 And, if a state provides a post-conviction corrective process, that process must be invoked and relief denied before a claim of denial of substantial federal rights may be entertained by a federal court.6 In inquiring whether any such corrective process was available to petitioners following their conviction, we note that under Illinois practice, writ of error can be used to bring the trial record, including a transcript of the proceedings, before the Illinois Supreme Court for review. However, petitioners could obtain review by writ of error only if a bill of exceptions or the report of proceedings at the trial had been submitted to the trial court within a limited period after conviction.7 While Illinois provides a transcript without cost to indigent defendants who have been sentenced to death, in the absence of some Illinois procedure to permit other indigent defendants to secure an adequate record petitioners could utilize the writ of error procedure only by purchasing the transcript within the limited period following conviction.8 Since petitioners in these

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cases have taken paupers' oaths, the Attorney General of Illinois concedes that writ of error has not been available to review their claims, and we find nothing in this record to justify a different position. 9 We do not consider here any independent question that might be raised by a state's failure to provide to an indigent defendant the transcript of his trial. It is sufficient for the purpose of this case that, if writ of error was not available to petitioners and if the Attorney General is correct in stating that the Post-Conviction Hearing Act does not provide an appropriate remedy in this type of case, there never has been, and is not now, any state post-conviction remedy available for determination of petitioners' claims that their federal rights have been infringed.

if their allegations are true and if their claims have not been waived at or after trial, petitioners are held in custody in violation of federal constitutional rights. Petitioners are entitled to their day in court fore resolution

Page 111

of these issues. Where the state does not afford a remedy, a state prisoner may apply for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court to secure protection of his federal rights.10

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43 practice notes
  • Burns v. Lovett, No. 11419
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 31, 1952
    ...261 U.S. 86, 43 S.Ct. 265, 67 L.Ed. 543; Mooney v. Holohan, 1935, 294 U.S. 103, 55 S.Ct. 340, 79 L. Ed. 791; Jennings v. Illinois, 1951, 342 U.S. 104, 72 S.Ct. 123, 96 L.Ed. 119; Dorsey v. Gill, 1945, 80 U.S.App.D.C. 9, 23-25, 148 F.2d 857, 871-873, certiorari denied, 1945, 325 U.S. 890, 65......
  • Miller v. State
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • January 30, 1953
    ...right relating to a mere matter of practice or procedure. State v. Hartsfield, 188 N.C. 357, 124 S.E. 629; Jennings v. State of Illinois, 342 U.S. 104, 72 S.Ct. 123, 96 L.Ed. 119; Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414, 64 S.Ct. 660, 88 L.Ed. 834; Parker v. United States, 4 Cir., 184 F.2d 488......
  • Carter v. Estelle, No. 80-1981
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 1, 1982
    ...804, 68 S.Ct. 1212, 92 L.Ed. 1737 (1948); Young v. Ragen, 337 U.S. 235, 69 S.Ct. 1073, 93 L.Ed. 1333 (1949); and Jennings v. Illinois, 342 U.S. 104, 72 S.Ct. 123, 96 L.Ed. 119 20 Cf. Fay v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391, 435, 83 S.Ct. 822, 847, 9 L.Ed.2d 837 (1963) which overturned the rule of Darr v.......
  • Helfant v. Kugler, No. 73-1386
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 7, 1973
    ...1974). 39 416 U.S. at 836, 94 S.Ct. at 2210 (Burger, C.J., concurring and dissenting). 40 Stefanelli v. Minard, supra, 342 U.S. at 123, 72 S.Ct. at 123. 41 42 See, e.g., Rule 50(b), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure; ABA Project on Standards for Criminal Justice, Standards Relating to Spe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
43 cases
  • Burns v. Lovett, No. 11419
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 31, 1952
    ...261 U.S. 86, 43 S.Ct. 265, 67 L.Ed. 543; Mooney v. Holohan, 1935, 294 U.S. 103, 55 S.Ct. 340, 79 L. Ed. 791; Jennings v. Illinois, 1951, 342 U.S. 104, 72 S.Ct. 123, 96 L.Ed. 119; Dorsey v. Gill, 1945, 80 U.S.App.D.C. 9, 23-25, 148 F.2d 857, 871-873, certiorari denied, 1945, 325 U.S. 890, 65......
  • Miller v. State
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • January 30, 1953
    ...right relating to a mere matter of practice or procedure. State v. Hartsfield, 188 N.C. 357, 124 S.E. 629; Jennings v. State of Illinois, 342 U.S. 104, 72 S.Ct. 123, 96 L.Ed. 119; Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414, 64 S.Ct. 660, 88 L.Ed. 834; Parker v. United States, 4 Cir., 184 F.2d 488......
  • Carter v. Estelle, No. 80-1981
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 1, 1982
    ...804, 68 S.Ct. 1212, 92 L.Ed. 1737 (1948); Young v. Ragen, 337 U.S. 235, 69 S.Ct. 1073, 93 L.Ed. 1333 (1949); and Jennings v. Illinois, 342 U.S. 104, 72 S.Ct. 123, 96 L.Ed. 119 20 Cf. Fay v. Noia, 372 U.S. 391, 435, 83 S.Ct. 822, 847, 9 L.Ed.2d 837 (1963) which overturned the rule of Darr v.......
  • Helfant v. Kugler, No. 73-1386
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 7, 1973
    ...1974). 39 416 U.S. at 836, 94 S.Ct. at 2210 (Burger, C.J., concurring and dissenting). 40 Stefanelli v. Minard, supra, 342 U.S. at 123, 72 S.Ct. at 123. 41 42 See, e.g., Rule 50(b), Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure; ABA Project on Standards for Criminal Justice, Standards Relating to Spe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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