Massey v. Moore

Decision Date06 December 1954
Docket NumberNo. 119,119
Citation348 U.S. 105,99 L.Ed. 135,75 S.Ct. 145
PartiesO'Neal MASSEY, Petitioner, v. H. E. MOORE, Warden, Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Texas
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Mr.Dean Acheson, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Mr. James N. Castleberry, Jr., Austin, Tex., for respondent pro hac vice by special leave of Court.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner, who is in a Texas prison under a life sentence imposed by a Texas court, brought this petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Federal District Court. His claim is that he was denied the due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment because he was tried and convicted of robbery at a time when he was of unsound mind and unassisted by counsel. The District Court denied the petition without a hearing. The Court of Appeals affirmed by a divided vote. 205 F.2d 665. The case is here on certiorari. 347 U.S. 1011, 74 S.Ct. 873.

Petitioner's trial on the robbery charge started and ended the same day. He had been confined to the psychopathic hospital of the state prison for several months prior to the trial; and for part of that time he was kept in a cell block reserved for the most violent inmates. He was removed from a strait jacket March 7, 1941, and tried March 11, 1941. He stood trial without benefit of counsel, though the crime with which he was charged carried a mandatory life sentence because petitioner had suffered two prior felony convictions. See Vernon's Ann.Tex.Pen.Code, Art. 63.

Petitioner declined to plead guilty; hence a plea of not guilty was entered. So far as we are advised, petitioner took no part in the proceedings and made no attempt to conduct any defense. Petitioner was convicted and immediately sentenced. Shortly thereafter, he tried to commit suicide; and then he was recommitted to the psychopathic ward where he was confined for several months more. While he was so confined, the time for appeal from his judgment of conviction expired.

Since his conviction, petitioner has tried repeatedly to obtain relief by way of habeas corpus both in the state and federal courts. He repeatedly claimed that he was tried and convicted without counsel while he was insane and unable to defend himself. Until 1952, he failed,1 because the record of his trial erroneously stated that he was represented by counsel. The error in that record was corrected by affidavits of both the trial judge and the prosecuting attorney. Thereupon petitioner renewed his efforts to get a hearing on his claim. Finally the Texas courts denied him relief because under Texas law the question whether he was insane and thus unable to defend could be raised only on appeal, not collaterally. Ex parte Massey, 157 Tex.Cr.R. 491, 249 S.W.2d 599. Petitioner, having exhausted his state remedies, sought the present relief in the District Court, which ruled against him. The Court of Appeals affirmed on the grounds (1) that petitioner now tenders an issue which could and should have been raised during the trial; (2) that the question of petitioner's insanity was determined against him in 1948 by the District Court; and (3) that the allegations of insanity and lack of counsel do not present a substantial federal question.

We disagree with the Court of Appeals and conclude that petitioner is entitled to a hearing on the question whether he was insane at the time of the trial. He has not had such a hearing. In 1948, the District Court, acting on the erroneous assumption that petitioner had counsel, held that he was competent to stand trial.

In the present case the District Court merely ruled, 'On this question of whether, since he was not represented by counsel at his trial, he is in custody in violation of the Constitution, etc. of the United States, I have examined again all the proceedings in this Court and in the State Courts and have reached the conclusion that his contention that his trial was not in accordance with the Constitution is without merit.' That may mean that the evidence to support the finding that petitioner was competent to stand trial with a lawyer was also sufficient to sustain the conclusion that he was competent to stand trial without a lawyer. It may mean that in the view of the District Court the two issues are the same. The present record leaves us in doubt. One might not be insane in the sense of being incapable of standing trial and yet lack the capacity to stand trial without benefit of counsel. The difference in those issues and the importance of that difference to the petitioner make manifest that grave injustice might be done, if the finding in the earlier proceedings were allowed to do service here. On this record the question of petitioner's ability to represent himself without counse...

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  • State v. Connor, No. 18099.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • July 14, 2009
    ...if he can play the lesser role of represented defendant."26 (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id.; see also Massey v. Moore, 348 U.S. 105, 108, 75 S.Ct. 145, 99 L.Ed. 135 (1954) ("[o]ne might not be insane in the sense of being incapable of standing trial and yet lack the capacity to stan......
  • People v. Burnett
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • January 27, 1987 lacking if an accused cannot put his case effectively in court." (Id., at p. 279, 63 S.Ct. at p. 242.) In Massey v. Moore (1954) 348 U.S. 105, 75 S.Ct. 145, 99 L.Ed. 135, the court noted that a defendant may be capable of standing trial "and yet lack the capacity to stand trial without b......
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    • New York Family Court
    • September 24, 1980
    ...statutorily mandated. See Pate v. Robinson, 383 U.S. 375, 378, 385-6, 86 S.Ct. 836, 838, 842, 15 L.Ed.2d 815; Massey v. Moore, 348 U.S. 105, 108, 75 S.Ct. 145, 147, 99 L.Ed. 135.17 The cases are collected in Matter of Tony W., 91 Misc. 700, 702, 398 N.Y.S.2d 528, 530 (Fam.Ct.N.Y.Cnty., 1977......
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    ...(See, e.g., People v. Burnett (1987) 188 Cal.App.3d 1314, 1324-1325, 234 Cal.Rptr. 67 [concluding the rule in Massey v. Moore (1954) 348 U.S. 105, 108, 75 S.Ct. 145, 99 L.Ed. 135, that competence to waive counsel includes the ability to present an elementary defense, survives Faretta; also ......
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4 books & journal articles
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    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly No. 9-4, December 1956
    • December 1, 1956
    ...again a fairly definite pattern of voting tendencies among the justices. 28 Chandler v. Fretag, 348 U.S. 3 (1954), and Massey v. Moore, 348 U.S. 105 Regan v. New York, 349 U.S. 58 (1955); In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133 (1955); and Williams v. Georgia, 349 U.S. 375 (1955). 30 United States v.......
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    ...subversion. 22 Irvine v. California, 347 U.S. 128, 149 (1954).23 Salsburg v. Maryland, 346 U.S. 545, 554 (1954). 24 Massey v. Moore, 348 U.S. 105 Rea v. United States, 350 U.S. 214, 218 (1956).26 Johnston v. United States, 351 U.S. 215, 224 (1956). 18 6. &dquo;The indignity to the individua......
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    • Duke University School of Law Alaska Law Review No. 18, January 2001
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    ...Id. at 381 n.10 (citing Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284 (1973); Alexander v. Louisiana, 405 U.S. 625 (1972); and Massey v. Moore, 348 U.S. 105 (1954)). [187] California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479, 481 (1984) ("[T]he question presented is whether the Due Process Clause requires law enf......
  • Shots, Shoes, and Self-representation: Indiana v. Edwards and the New Limitation on the Sixth Amendment Right of Self-representation - Jaime Kristine Richards
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 60-4, June 2009
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    ...53. Id. at 161-63. 54. See 2 WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, COMMENTARIES ON THE LAWS OF ENGLAND *24-25 (1769). 55. Id. at *24. 56. Id. at *24-25. 57. 348 U.S. 105 (1954). 58. Id. at 108-09. 59. Id. 60. 362 U.S. 402 (1960). 61. Id. at 402. 62. Id. 63. 420 U.S. 162 (1975). 64. Id. at 164. 65. Id. at 166......

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