Rodriquez v. United States, No. 749

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMARSHALL
Citation23 L.Ed.2d 340,89 S.Ct. 1715,395 U.S. 327
Docket NumberNo. 749
Decision Date02 June 1969
PartiesAdolpho RODRIQUEZ, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES

395 U.S. 327
89 S.Ct. 1715
23 L.Ed.2d 340
Adolpho RODRIQUEZ, Petitioner,

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 749.
Argued March 26, 1969.
Decided June 2, 1969.

Page 328

William R. Wallace, San Francisco, Cal., for petitioner.

Beatrice Rosenberg, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner brought this suit for post-conviction relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, alleging that after his conviction on several narcotics charges he had been improperly denied his right to appeal. Petitioner was sentenced to 11 concurrent 20-year terms on June 20, 1963. Immediately after the sentencing, petitioner's retained counsel attempted to make a motion requesting leave for petitioner to proceed in forma pauperis. The trial judge cut petitioner's counsel off, saying that all motions had to be in writing. Without making any further inquiry, he adjourned the court. No written motions were ever filed, and petitioner's counsel did not submit a notice of appeal within the 10-day period specified by the applicable rule.1 On August 7, 1963, after the time had expired, petitioner attempted to file a notice of appeal himself. He declared that an oral notice had been given at trial. The trial judge ruled that the expiration of the appeal period deprived the court of jurisdit ion. Petitioner then sought relief in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He alleged that he had told his counsel to perfect an appeal, but that counsel had failed to do so. The Ninth Circuit denied petitioner's motion for lack of jurisdiction, citing United States v. Robinson, 361 U.S. 220, 80 S.Ct. 282, 4 L.Ed.2d 259 (1960). It also refused habeas corpus.

Page 329

This action was commenced on February 15, 1966. Petitioner alleged that he was of Mexican descent and that his knowledge of English was limited. He further contended that his retained counsel had fraudulently deprived him of his right to appeal. He asked that his conviction be set aside and that he be resentenced so that he could properly take an appeal. The District Court for the Northern District of California denied petitioner's application and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. 387 F.2d 117 (1967). Both courts relied on a Ninth Circuit rule requiring applicants in petitioner's position to disclose what errors they would raise on appeal and to demonstrate that denial of an appeal had caused prejudice. We granted certiorari to resolve a conflict among the circuits about the propriety of such a requirement.2 393 U.S. 951, 89 S.Ct. 380, 21 L.Ed.2d 362 (1968). We reverse.

I.

As this Court has noted before, '(p)resent federal law has made an appeal from a District Court's judgment of conviction in a criminal case what is, in effect, a matter

Page 330

of right.' Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 441, 82 S.Ct. 917, 919, 8 L.Ed.2d 21 (1962). The Ninth Circuit seems to require an applicant under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to show more than a simple deprivation of this right before relief can be accorded. It also requires him to show some likelihood of success on appeal; if the applicant is unlikely to succeed, the Ninth Circuit would characterize any denial of the right to appeal as a species of harmless error. We cannot subscribe to this approach.

Applicants for relief under § 2255 must, if indigent, prepare their petitions without the assistance of counsel. See Johnson v. Avery, 393 U.S. 483, 487—488, 89 S.Ct. 747, 749—750, 21 L.Ed.2d 718 (1969). Those whose education has been limited and those, like petitioner, who lack facility in the English language might have grave difficulty in making even a summary statement of points to be raised on appeal. Moreover, they may not even be aware of errors which occurred at trial. They would thus be deprived of their only chance to take an appeal even though they have never had the assistance of counsel in preparing one. Like the approach rejected long ago in Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45, 69, 53 S.Ct. 55, 64, 77 L.Ed. 158 (1932), the Ninth Circuit's requirement makes an indigent defendant face 'the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence.' Moreover, the Ninth Circuit rule would require the sentencing court to screen out sp posedly unmeritorious appeals in ways this Court rejected in Coppedge. Those whose right to appeal has been frustrated should be treated exactly like any other appellants; they should not be given an additional hurdle to clear just because their rights were violated at some earlier stage in the proceedings. Accordingly, we hold that the courts below erred in rejecting petitioner's application for relief because of his failure to specify the points he would raise were his right to appeal reinstated.

Page 331

II.

The Government, while not arguing that the courts below properly denied relief on the pleadings, urges us to remand this case for a truncated factual hearing. Drawing upon this Court's recognition in Machibroda v. United States, 368 U.S. 487, 495, 82 S.Ct. 510, 514, 7 L.Ed.2d 473 (1962), that the hearing requirement of § 2255 'does not strip the district courts of all discretion to exercise their common sense,' the Government suggests that the District Court be instructed to obtain an affidavit from petitioner's trial attorney explaining why no notice of appeal was filed. This explanation, together with petitioner's allegations, would be used to judge the propriety of a hearing.

This issue was not present in this case when certiorari was granted and we do not think it is present now. For we think it 'just under the circumstances,' 28 U.S.C. § 2106, for us to dispose of petitioner's arguments...

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524 practice notes
  • Garza v. Idaho, No. 17-1026
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • February 27, 2019
    ...the merits of his underlying claims." Id., at 484, 120 S.Ct. 1029 ; see also id., at 486, 120 S.Ct. 1029. In Rodriquez v. United States , 395 U.S. 327, 89 S.Ct. 1715, 23 L.Ed.2d 340 (1969), similarly, the Court rejected a rule that required a defendant whose appeal had been forfeited by cou......
  • U.S. v. Sura, No. 05-1478.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • December 12, 2007
    ...request, we routinely grant motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and allow the appeal process to go forward. See Rodriquez v. United States, 395 U.S. 327, 89 S.Ct. 1715, 23 L.Ed.2d 340 (1969). We conclude, therefore, that Sura's unwitting waiver of his right to appeal seriously affected the fairn......
  • Moore v. United States, CIVIL ACTION NO. 13-00047-KD-B
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • March 21, 2014
    ...requests it acts in a professionally unreasonable manner per se. Id. at 477, 120 S. Ct. at 1035 (citing Rodriquez v. United States, 395 U.S. 327, 89 S. Ct. 1715, 23 L. Ed. 2d 340 (1969)) . . .As to the second prong of the Strickland test, the Flores-Ortega Court held that the failure to fil......
  • Collier v. State, S19A0658
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • October 21, 2019
    ...of a new judgment for the purpose of permitting the perfection of an appeal was an appropriate remedy. See Rodriquez v. United States , 395 U. S. 327, 332, 89 S.Ct. 1715, 23 L.E.2d 340 (1969) (remanding the case "to the District Court where petitioner should be resentenced so that he may pe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
526 cases
  • Garza v. Idaho, No. 17-1026
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • February 27, 2019
    ...the merits of his underlying claims." Id., at 484, 120 S.Ct. 1029 ; see also id., at 486, 120 S.Ct. 1029. In Rodriquez v. United States , 395 U.S. 327, 89 S.Ct. 1715, 23 L.Ed.2d 340 (1969), similarly, the Court rejected a rule that required a defendant whose appeal had been forfeited by cou......
  • U.S. v. Sura, No. 05-1478.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • December 12, 2007
    ...request, we routinely grant motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and allow the appeal process to go forward. See Rodriquez v. United States, 395 U.S. 327, 89 S.Ct. 1715, 23 L.Ed.2d 340 (1969). We conclude, therefore, that Sura's unwitting waiver of his right to appeal seriously affected the fairn......
  • Moore v. United States, CIVIL ACTION NO. 13-00047-KD-B
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • March 21, 2014
    ...requests it acts in a professionally unreasonable manner per se. Id. at 477, 120 S. Ct. at 1035 (citing Rodriquez v. United States, 395 U.S. 327, 89 S. Ct. 1715, 23 L. Ed. 2d 340 (1969)) . . .As to the second prong of the Strickland test, the Flores-Ortega Court held that the failure to fil......
  • Collier v. State, S19A0658
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • October 21, 2019
    ...of a new judgment for the purpose of permitting the perfection of an appeal was an appropriate remedy. See Rodriquez v. United States , 395 U. S. 327, 332, 89 S.Ct. 1715, 23 L.E.2d 340 (1969) (remanding the case "to the District Court where petitioner should be resentenced so that he may pe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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