Seidner v. United States, No. 14133.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtPRETTYMAN, BAZELON and BURGER, Circuit
Citation260 F.2d 732,104 US App. DC 214
PartiesAlbert SEIDNER, Appellant v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 14133.
Decision Date20 October 1958

104 US App. DC 214, 260 F.2d 732 (1958)

Albert SEIDNER, Appellant
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

No. 14133.

United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit.

Decided October 20, 1958.

Petition for Rehearing Dismissed November 17, 1958.


Appellant filed a brief pro se.

Messrs. Oliver Gasch, U. S. Atty., Lewis Carroll, Alfred Hantman and Nathan J. Paulson, Asst. U. S. Attys., were on the brief for appellee. Messrs. Carl W. Belcher and Fred L. McIntyre, Asst. U. S. Attys., also entered appearances for appellee.

Mr. John W. Douglas, Washington, D. C. (appointed by this Court) entered an appearance as amicus curiae.

Before PRETTYMAN, BAZELON and BURGER, Circuit Judges.

260 F.2d 733

PER CURIAM.

This is an appeal from the District Court's denial, without hearing, of two motions, one for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence, the other to vacate sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Neither motion alleged any ground upon which relief could be granted. Upon receiving a letter from appellant which indicated he was incarcerated in a mental institution run by the Bureau of Prisons and after examining the records, this court appointed a member of the bar as amicus curiae to file a memorandum. This memorandum raised for the first time a question as to whether appellant had been mentally competent at the time of his trial.

In response to a show cause order which this court issued after considering the amicus memorandum, the Director of Prisons stated that he had examined the report made by the Lewisburg Prison Board of Examiners of its psychiatric examination of appellant, an examination made six and one-half months after sentence on a guilty plea. The Director found therein no probable cause to believe that appellant was mentally incompetent at the time of his plea. See 18 U.S.C. § 4245. However, the present state of the record suggests it is possible that there is some question concerning appellant's competency to stand trial.

If appellant was incompetent when he pleaded guilty, the sentence must be vacated. Lloyd v. United States, 1957, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 116, 247 F.2d 522. Appellant, however, rejects the idea he may have been incompetent. Despite his protests, we hold that the issue of competency is cognizable under appellant's § 2255 motion by virtue of the amicus memorandum; the former should, in the peculiar circumstances of this case, be read to include the latter, for purposes of raising the issue of mental competence.1 Accordingly we remand in order that the District Court may now determine whether the issue of competency requires that the sentence be vacated as in Kelley v. United States, 1954, 95 U.S.App.D.C. 267, 221 F.2d 822, conviction at new trial reversed on other grounds, 1956, 99 U.S. App.D.C. 13, 236 F.2d 746, or whether on the other hand a determination of appellant's competency can be made nunc pro tunc, as in Lloyd v. United States, supra; Wells v. United States, 1956, 99 U.S.App. D.C. 310, 239 F.2d 931; Gunther v. United States, 1954, 94 U.S.App.D.C. 243, 215 F.2d 493, subsequent competency determination reversed for improper procedures, 1956, 97 U.S.App.D.C. 254, 230 F.2d 222.

If the court determines that a nunc pro tunc competency determination will be adequate under the circumstances, it should then proceed to resolve the issue and make such a determination. Should it then determine upon adequate evidence that appellant was competent at the time of his trial, the motion to vacate sentence should be denied, otherwise it should be granted.

We are not unmindful of the difficulties which will confront the District Court and counsel on remand; among other things it may be assumed that appellant will not knowingly assist counsel in any effort to prove lack of competence at the time of trial. Nevertheless, it seems to us that the District Court must be allowed to deal with the problem in the first instance, exercising sound judicial discretion to resolve the problems of procedure, order of proof and burden of proof with such limited guidance as

260 F.2d 734
has heretofore been made available. See Fooks v. United States, 1956, 100 U.S. App.D.C. 348, 246 F.2d 629. The objective must be to achieve fundamental fairness bearing in mind that rigid rules of procedure, or evidence, or order of proof, will not always best serve the interests of substantial justice when applied to a post-conviction proceeding such as this

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13 practice notes
  • Smith v. United States, No. 14599.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 7, 1959
    ...proceedings or properly to assist in his defense the sentence should have been vacated. Seidner v. United States, 104 U.S.App.D.C. 214, 260 F.2d 732; Lloyd v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 116, 247 F.2d 522. And see Massey v. Moore, 348 U.S. 105, 75 S.Ct. 145, 99 L.Ed. 135. Nevertheless t......
  • State v. Meeks, No. 01-0263-CR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 11, 2003
    ...States v. Klat, 213 F.2d 697, 703 (D.C. Cir. 2000), the last, and only, time that it applied Gunther was in Seidner v. United States, 260 F.2d 732, 733 (D.C. Cir. 1958). Given its conclusory nature, the Gunther per curiam has limited persuasive value in the first place; after David, it may ......
  • Nelms v. United States, No. 8805.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 10, 1963
    ...239 F.2d 931 (1956); Lloyd v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 116, 247 F.2d 522 (1957); Seidner v. United States, 104 U.S.App.D.C. 214, 260 F.2d 732 (1958); Smith v. United States, 106 U.S.App.D.C. 169, 270 F.2d 921 (1959); Bostic v. United States, 112 U.S.App.D.C. 17, 298 F.2d 678 (1961). ......
  • Com. v. Bruno
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 27, 1969
    ...does not preclude his later raising the incompetency issue. 8 This suggestion was made in Seidner v. United States, 104 U.S.App.D.C. 214, 260 F.2d 732 (1958), where the court anticipated that the defendant would refuse counsel on remand. See also Foote, Pre-Trial Commitment, supra, at page ......
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13 cases
  • Smith v. United States, No. 14599.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 7, 1959
    ...proceedings or properly to assist in his defense the sentence should have been vacated. Seidner v. United States, 104 U.S.App.D.C. 214, 260 F.2d 732; Lloyd v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 116, 247 F.2d 522. And see Massey v. Moore, 348 U.S. 105, 75 S.Ct. 145, 99 L.Ed. 135. Nevertheless t......
  • State v. Meeks, No. 01-0263-CR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 11, 2003
    ...States v. Klat, 213 F.2d 697, 703 (D.C. Cir. 2000), the last, and only, time that it applied Gunther was in Seidner v. United States, 260 F.2d 732, 733 (D.C. Cir. 1958). Given its conclusory nature, the Gunther per curiam has limited persuasive value in the first place; after David, it may ......
  • Nelms v. United States, No. 8805.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 10, 1963
    ...239 F.2d 931 (1956); Lloyd v. United States, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 116, 247 F.2d 522 (1957); Seidner v. United States, 104 U.S.App.D.C. 214, 260 F.2d 732 (1958); Smith v. United States, 106 U.S.App.D.C. 169, 270 F.2d 921 (1959); Bostic v. United States, 112 U.S.App.D.C. 17, 298 F.2d 678 (1961). ......
  • Com. v. Bruno
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 27, 1969
    ...does not preclude his later raising the incompetency issue. 8 This suggestion was made in Seidner v. United States, 104 U.S.App.D.C. 214, 260 F.2d 732 (1958), where the court anticipated that the defendant would refuse counsel on remand. See also Foote, Pre-Trial Commitment, supra, at page ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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