Moffitt v. Blackledge

Decision Date20 April 1972
Docket NumberCiv. No. 2842.
Citation341 F. Supp. 853
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of North Carolina
PartiesClaude Franklin MOFFITT, Petitioner, v. Dr. Stanley BLACKLEDGE, Warden of Central Prison, and State of North Carolina, Respondents.

No appearance for petitioner.

Jacob L. Safron, Asst. Atty. Gen., Raleigh, N. C., for respondents.


McMILLAN, District Judge.

Claude Franklin Moffitt petitioned this court on February 26, 1971 for a writ of habeas corpus. In an order filed September 17, 1971 the petition was dismissed and all claims denied. In a letter dated November 15, 1971 (which for these purposes is treated as a formal motion) Moffitt, in essence, has asked the court to reconsider the ruling on one of his allegations, and to reconsider the denial of a certificate of probable cause.

Petitioner's fourth allegation in his original petition was that the state failed to appoint counsel for him to file a petition for certiorari in the North Carolina Supreme Court. In rejecting this claim, the September 17, 1971 order stated:

"Since petitioner was provided free legal counsel at trial and for his appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, it does not appear that his right to counsel under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments has been violated. The Supreme Court in Douglas v. California, 372 U.S. 353 83 S.Ct. 814, 9 L.Ed.2d 811 (1963) went only so far as to say that an indigent is entitled to counsel where an appeal in a criminal case is a matter of right. Where, as here, appellate review (by the North Carolina Supreme Court) is discretionary, there is, as yet, no constitutional right to appeal. Moreover, application of the standards regulating discretionary appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court demonstrates that Moffitt's petition for certiorari would have almost certainly been denied. See, N.C.G.S., § 7A-31."

Moffitt argues that N.C.G.S. § 7A-451 and State v. May, 8 N.C.App. 423, 174 S.E.2d 633 (1970), require an opposite result.

N.C.G.S. § 7A-451 reads in relevant part:

"(a) An indigent person is entitled to services of counsel in the following actions and proceedings:
"(1) Any felony case, and any misdemeanor case for which the authorized punishment exceeds six months imprisonment or a five hundred dollars ($500.00) fine;
* * * * * *
"(b) In each of the actions and proceedings enumerated in subsection (a) of this section, entitlement to the services of counsel begins as soon as feasible after the indigent is taken into custody or service is made upon him of the charge, petition, notice or other initiating process. Entitlement continues through any critical stage of the action or proceeding, including, if applicable:
* * * * * *
"(6) Direct review of any judgment or decree, including review by the United States Supreme Court of final judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of North Carolina in which decision may be had."

We read the statute differently than does petitioner. An indigent is entitled to have a lawyer at his trial, and for...

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3 cases
  • Ross v. Moffitt 8212 786
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 17, 1974
    ...respondent again sought federal habeas relief, this time in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, 341 F.Supp. 853. That court denied relief, and respondent took an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth The Court of Appeals reversed the two Distr......
  • Morgan v. Yancy County Dept. of Corrections
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • October 2, 1975
    ...while a certificate of probable cause is granted the judgment of the district court is affirmed. Affirmed. 1 Moffitt v. Blackledge, 341 F.Supp. 853 (W.D.N.C.1972). Although that case was appealed to this court and was ultimately considered by the Supreme Court sub nom. Ross v. Moffitt, 417 ......
  • Crum v. State
    • United States
    • Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
    • September 19, 1975
    ... ... However, Ross v. Moffitt, 417 U.S. 600, 94 S.Ct. 2437, 41 L.Ed.2d 341; D.C., 341 F.Supp. 853, holds unequivocally that the state is under no obligation to indigents to match ... ...

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