Seals v. State

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtLAWSON; LIVINGSTON
Citation282 Ala. 586,213 So.2d 645
Decision Date15 August 1968
PartiesWillie SEALS, Jr. v. STATE of Alabama. I Div. 209-A.

Page 645

213 So.2d 645
282 Ala. 586
Willie SEALS, Jr.
v.
STATE of Alabama.
I Div. 209-A.
Supreme Court of Alabama.
Aug. 15, 1968.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 12, 1968.

[282 Ala. 588]

Page 648

Vernon Z. Crawford, Mobile, Chas. S. Conley, Montgomery, Arthur J. Lesemann, Hackensack, N.J., and Martin Bradley, Jr., Buffalo, N.Y., for appellant.

[282 Ala. 589] MacDonald Gallion, Atty. Gen., and Leslie Hall, Asst. Atty. Gen., for state.

LAWSON, Justice.

Willie Seals, the appellant, was first indicted for rape on October 24, 1958. He pleaded not guilty. Upon his trial on that indictment the jury found him guilty and imposed the death penalty. Judgment and sentence were in accord with the verdict. [282 Ala. 590] On June 2, 1960, we affirmed the judgment of the trial court. We denied application for rehearing on August 18, 1960.--Seals v. State, 271 Ala. 142, 122 So.2d 513. Seals did not seek a review of our action by the Supreme Court of the United States.

However, on November 1, 1960, Seals filed in this court his petition to be permitted to file a petition for writ of error coram nobis in the Circuit Court of Mobile. That was the proper procedure at the time, since we had affirmed the judgment of the trial court, but an application to this court is no longer necessary. Under Supreme Court Rule 50, adopted December 6, 1965, 'Petitions for writs of error coram nobis shall be filed in the trial court without first applying for and receiving permission of the Supreme Court; * * *'

Among the grounds of the petition filed here by Seals on November 1, 1960, were several which were based on the theory that the petitioner, Seals, was a member of the Negro race, and that members of such race had been intentionally and systematically excluded from both the grand jury and petit jury solely on account of their race and color. The petitioner did not contend that that question had been raised at his trial. We denied the petition on January 26, 1961.--Ex parte Seals, 271 Ala. 622, 126 So.2d 474.

Thereafter Seals filed in the Supreme Court of the United States a petition for writ of certiorari to review our action in Ex parte Seals, 271 Ala. 622, 126 So.2d 474. On June 12, 1961, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Seals' petition for writ of certiorari 'without prejudice to an application for a writ of habeas corpus in the appropriate United States District Court.'--Seals v. Alabama, 366 U.S. 954, 81 S.Ct. 1909, 6 L.Ed.2d 1246.

Pursuant to the suggestion of the Supreme Court of the United States, Seals made application for writ of habeas corpus to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Judge Seybourn H. Lynne, the Presiding Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern

Page 649

District of Alabama, was apparently assigned to hear the application. He entered a judgment denying the application, from which judgment Seals appealed to the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

On May 30, 1962, (rehearing denied June 29, 1962), the said United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, in United States of America ex rel. Willie Seals, Jr., Appellant v. Martin J. Wiman, Warden, Kilby Prison, Montgomery, Alabama, Appellee, 304 F.2d 53 (hereinafter referred to as United States v. Wiman), rendered an opinion which concludes as follows:

'Under the facts of this case, with all deference to the opinion of the Supreme Court of Alabama, we cannot agree that Seals waived his constitutional rights by failing to object upon his trial and must accordingly be executed. To the contrary, we must hold that the objection both to the grand jury and to the petit jury on the ground that Negroes were systematically excluded is open for consideration on the habeas corpus proceeding.

'Upon the present record we hold further that Negroes were systematically excluded both from the grand jury which indicted Seals and from the petit jury which convicted him; and, hence, that Seals' judgment of conviction is unconstitutional, subject to collateral attack, and is declared to be void and of no effect.

'Nonetheless, Seals is now legally detained upon his commitment to await the action of another grand jury upon the crime of rape with which he is charged. Seals is, of course, entitled to be tried within a reasonable time, and the district court should retain jurisdiction to meet the unlikely event that further orders and judgments may be necessary or proper. This Court expresses its present opinion that a period of eight months from and after the entry of this judgment or its final test by certiorari, or otherwise, will be sufficient to afford the State of Alabama[282 Ala. 591] an opportunity to take the necessary steps to reindict and retry Seals.

'Any such reindictment must of course be by a grand jury from which Negroes have not been systematically excluded, and any such retrial must be before a jury from which Negroes have not been systematically excluded, or before some court or tribunal so constituted as not to violate Seals' constitutional rights. For the guidance of the parties, the Court expresses the present opinion that if Seals is reindicted and retried and if any question should arise as to the legality or constitutionality of such indictment or trial, that should be decided not upon the present petition but in the regular course by the Courts of the State of Alabama, subject to possible review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

'The judgment of the district court is reversed, judgment here rendered in accordance with the holdings of this opinion, and the cause remanded for any further proceedings which may be found necessary or proper.

'Reversed, rendered and remanded.' (304 F.2d 69--70)

Seals, or his lawyers, were either not content with the victory which they had won in the United States Court of Appeals, or were playing for time, because Seals filed in the Supreme Court of the United States a petition for writ of certiorari to review the opinion and judgment of the United States Court of Appeals. Certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on February 18, 1963.--Seals v. Wiman, Warden, 372 U.S. 924, 83 S.Ct. 741, 9 L.Ed.2d 729.

On March 28, 1963, Seals was reindicted by another grand jury of Mobile County for the same offense, the rape of 'Mary Ann Hickey, a woman, now named Mary Ann Shaw.'

On May 6, 1963, five written motions were filed on behalf of Seals to quash that indictment.

Page 650

On September 20, 1963, there was filed on behalf of Seals a motion praying for an order directed to the Board of Jury Commissioners of Mobile County to allow Seals' attorneys to inspect and make copies of certain documents in the possession of said Board. This motion was granted on September 27, 1963.

On November 18, 1963, another written motion to quash the indictment was filed on behalf of Seals. An oral motion to quash the indictment was made on behalf of Seals in open court on November 20, 1963. After extended hearings, all of the aforementioned motions to quash the indictment were denied by the trial court on December 19, 1963.

On January 3, 1964, in the presence of one of his attorneys, Seals entered a plea of not guilty. The trial of his case was set for January 27, 1964. On that date there was filed on behalf of Seals a written motion to quash the trial venire and an oral motion was made on behalf of Seals in open court on that date to quash the trial venire. Both of said motions were denied on January 27, 1964.

On January 29, 1964, after the trial of the cause had begun, there was filed on behalf of Seals another written motion to quash the venire and that Seals be granted 'the right to examine individually on voir dire each prospective juror, by questions addressed to them by defense counsel, out of the presence of other prospective jurors.' Seals also sought in the motion filed on January 29 to have suppressed 'all evidence illegally obtained, after the illegal arrest, and during the period of the illegal detention of the defendant.' This motion was denied on the day it was filed.

The trial, which began on January 27, 1964, was concluded on February 1, 1964. A jury found Seals guilty as charged in the indictment and his punishment was fixed at life imprisonment. Judgment and sentence were in accord with the verdict of the jury.

On March 2, 1964, Seals gave written notice of appeal to this court and on March 10, 1964, he filed a petition requesting a [282 Ala. 592] free transcript of the proceedings in the trial court on the ground that he was an indigent. Following a hearing, the trial court on March 27, 1964, rendered a judgment denying Seals' motion for a free transcript. From that judgment Seals on April 6, 1964, appealed to this court. On June 18, 1964, we affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying the free transcript.--Seals v. State of Alabama, 276 Ala. 654, 165 So.2d 742. Seals then filed in the Supreme Court of the United States a motion for leave to proceed in Forma pauperis and a petition for writ of certiorari to review and revise our opinion and judgment in Seals v. State of Alabama, 276 Ala. 654, 165 So.2d 742.

On March 8, 1965, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered an opinion as follows:

'Per Curiam.

'The motion for leave to proceed in Forma pauperis and the petition for a writ of certiorari are granted. The Court is of the view that on the record the petitioner is an indigent. Therefore, the judgment must be reversed. Griffin v. People of State of Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 76 S.Ct. 585, 100 L.Ed. 891.' (380 U.S. 254, 85 S.Ct. 943, 13 L.Ed.2d 818.)

On April 6, 1965, this court entered an order in the Seals case which reads as follows:

'The Supreme Court of the United States having heretofore granted Certiorari and reversed the decision of this Court on March 8, 1965, and this Court having reveived the United States Supreme Court Mandate on April 5, 1965;

'IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that this cause...

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66 practice notes
  • International Broth. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America v. Hatas, 2 Div. 506
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 5 Agosto 1971
    ...point, both on direct and cross, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in sustaining the objection.--Seals v. State, 282 Ala. 586, 213 So.2d Assignment of Error 34 reads: 'For that the trial court erred in sustaining objection to the following question propounded to the w......
  • Morrison v. State, 4 Div. 284
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 20 Agosto 1985
    ...Court has previously held that no error occurred where a defendant's motion to examine jurors individually was denied. Seals v. State, 282 Ala. 586, 213 So.2d 645 Page 52 It is within the trial court's discretion as to whether the jury should be qualified in groups. Aaron v. State, 273 Ala.......
  • Saunders v. State, CR-05-0281.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 21 Diciembre 2007
    ...See, e.g., Lewis v. State, 889 So.2d 623, 666 (Ala.Crim.App. 2003) (harmless-error rule applies in capital cases). In Seals v. State, 282 Ala. 586, 213 So.2d 645 (Ala. 1968), the victim identified Seals during her testimony on direct examination, and she testified that she had identified Se......
  • Siebert v. State, 7 Div. 851
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 14 Abril 1989
    ...The method of qualifying a jury on voir dire is a matter largely vested in the discretion of the trial court. Seals v. State, 282 Ala. 586, 213 So.2d 645, 657-58 (1968); United States v. Hurley, 746 F.2d 725 (11th Cir.1984). See also Beecher v. State, 288 Ala. 1, 256 So.2d 154, 164 (1971), ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
66 cases
  • International Broth. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America v. Hatas, 2 Div. 506
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 5 Agosto 1971
    ...point, both on direct and cross, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in sustaining the objection.--Seals v. State, 282 Ala. 586, 213 So.2d Assignment of Error 34 reads: 'For that the trial court erred in sustaining objection to the following question propounded to the w......
  • Morrison v. State, 4 Div. 284
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 20 Agosto 1985
    ...Court has previously held that no error occurred where a defendant's motion to examine jurors individually was denied. Seals v. State, 282 Ala. 586, 213 So.2d 645 Page 52 It is within the trial court's discretion as to whether the jury should be qualified in groups. Aaron v. State, 273 Ala.......
  • Saunders v. State, CR-05-0281.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 21 Diciembre 2007
    ...See, e.g., Lewis v. State, 889 So.2d 623, 666 (Ala.Crim.App. 2003) (harmless-error rule applies in capital cases). In Seals v. State, 282 Ala. 586, 213 So.2d 645 (Ala. 1968), the victim identified Seals during her testimony on direct examination, and she testified that she had identified Se......
  • Siebert v. State, 7 Div. 851
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 14 Abril 1989
    ...The method of qualifying a jury on voir dire is a matter largely vested in the discretion of the trial court. Seals v. State, 282 Ala. 586, 213 So.2d 645, 657-58 (1968); United States v. Hurley, 746 F.2d 725 (11th Cir.1984). See also Beecher v. State, 288 Ala. 1, 256 So.2d 154, 164 (1971), ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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