Smith v. Grady, No. 364

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACK
Citation85 L.Ed. 859,61 S.Ct. 572,312 U.S. 329
Decision Date17 February 1941
Docket NumberNo. 364
PartiesSMITH v. O'GRADY, Warden of Nebraska State Penitentiary

312 U.S. 329
61 S.Ct. 572
85 L.Ed. 859
SMITH

v.

O'GRADY, Warden of Nebraska State Penitentiary.

No. 364.
Argued Jan. 17, 1941.
Decided Feb. 17, 1941.

Page 330

Mr. William L. Marbury, Jr., of Baltimore, Md., for petitioner.

Mr. C. S. Beck, of Lincoln, Neb., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented is whether petitioner's application for writ of habeas corpus filed in a Nebraska state court alleged facts which if proven entitled him to release from prison because he was held pursuant to a court judgment rendered in violation of rights guaranteed him by the federal Constitution. The trial court declined to issue the writ, holding that the petition failed to state a cause of action justifying the relief prayed. Without requiring the state to answer and without giving petitioner an opportunity to prove his allegations, the application was dismissed. A motion for reconsideration, setting out additional facts, was similarly dismissed. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Nebraska affirmed, without opinion.

The judgment of the Nebraska Supreme Court is a final and authoritative answer to petitioner's contention that his imprisonment was illegal under the state's constitution or laws. But petitioner also contended that

Page 331

his imprisonment was illegal under the federal Constitution. And in denying the writ the Nebraska court necessarily held that petitioner's allegations—even if proven in their entirety—would not entitle him to habeas corpus, even if the petition showed a deprivation of federally protected rights.1 It was to review this question that we granted certiorari. 311 U.S. 633, 61 S.Ct. 62, 85 L.Ed. —-.

But before examining the pleadings in order to determine whether the allegations showed a deprivation of federally protected rights, it is necessary to consider a preliminary contention urged by the state. The tenor of this contention is that under Nebraska law petitioner could not have his asserted federal rights determined in habeas corpus proceedings. And, supporting this contention, there is in the record a letter to petitioner from the trial judge who originally denied the writ—a letter indicating that petitioner's only relief from illegal imprisonment was by application to the Nebraska Parole and Pardon Board. This letter is not, however, a judicial determination, and apparently no state statutes or court decisions compel the result it indicates. Nor can we lightly assume that Nebraska affords no corrective process for one who is imprisoned under a judgment rendered in violation of rights protected by the federal Constitution. That Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and 'Upon the state courts, equally with the courts of the Union, rests the obligation to guard and enforce every right secured by that Constitution.'2 Moreover, while

Page 332

the opinions of the Nebraska courts do not mark clearly the exact boundaries within which Nebraska confines the historic remedy of habeas corpus, the Nebraska Supreme Court has held that the writ was properly invoked to obtain release from imprisonment resulting from deprivation of constitutional rights.3 Because of this, and because a contrary conclusion would apparently mean that Nebraska provides no judicial remedy whatsoever for petitioner even though he can show he is imprisoned in violation of procedural safeguards commanded by the federal Constitution,4 we are unable to reach the conclusion that habeas corpus is unavailable to him under Nebraska law.

It is therefore our duty...

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592 practice notes
  • White v. United States, Criminal 18-cr-101-CG-MU
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Alabama
    • March 8, 2022
    ...against him'”. Henderson v. Morgan, 426 U.S. 637, 645 (1976); Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 618 (1998) (citing Smith v. O'Grady, 312 U.S. 329, 334 (1941)). As discussed in detail supra, the language of the plea colloquy clearly indicates that White received real notice of the elem......
  • Oom v. Christiansen, 1:22-cv-83
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
    • March 21, 2022
    ...and must have notice of the nature of the charges against him, see Henderson v. Morgan, 426 U.S. 637, 645 n.13 (1976); Smith v. O'Grady, 312 U.S. 329, 334 (1941). The plea must be entered “voluntarily, ” i.e., not be the product of “actual or threatened physical harm, or . . . mental coerci......
  • United States v. Jackson, Criminal No. 1:06-cr-161
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • March 27, 2019
    ...be constitutionally valid. See Bousley v. United States , 523 U.S. 614, 618, 118 S.Ct. 1604, 140 L.Ed.2d 828 (1998) ; Smith v. O'Grady , 312 U.S. 329, 334, 61 S.Ct. 572, 85 L.Ed. 859 (1941). In order for a plea to be "intelligent," a criminal defendant must "first receive[ ] ‘real notice of......
  • State v. Montgomery, No. 2012–1212.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • August 24, 2016
    ...of due process.’ " Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 618, 118 S.Ct. 1604, 140 L.Ed.2d 828 (1998), quoting Smith v. O'Grady, 312 U.S. 329, 334, 61 S.Ct. 572, 85 L.Ed. 859 (1941). {¶ 43} We have acknowledged that when a trial court engages in a full Crim.R. 11 plea colloquy with the def......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
592 cases
  • White v. United States, Criminal 18-cr-101-CG-MU
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Alabama
    • March 8, 2022
    ...against him'”. Henderson v. Morgan, 426 U.S. 637, 645 (1976); Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 618 (1998) (citing Smith v. O'Grady, 312 U.S. 329, 334 (1941)). As discussed in detail supra, the language of the plea colloquy clearly indicates that White received real notice of the elem......
  • Oom v. Christiansen, 1:22-cv-83
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
    • March 21, 2022
    ...and must have notice of the nature of the charges against him, see Henderson v. Morgan, 426 U.S. 637, 645 n.13 (1976); Smith v. O'Grady, 312 U.S. 329, 334 (1941). The plea must be entered “voluntarily, ” i.e., not be the product of “actual or threatened physical harm, or . . . mental coerci......
  • United States v. Jackson, Criminal No. 1:06-cr-161
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • March 27, 2019
    ...be constitutionally valid. See Bousley v. United States , 523 U.S. 614, 618, 118 S.Ct. 1604, 140 L.Ed.2d 828 (1998) ; Smith v. O'Grady , 312 U.S. 329, 334, 61 S.Ct. 572, 85 L.Ed. 859 (1941). In order for a plea to be "intelligent," a criminal defendant must "first receive[ ] ‘real notice of......
  • State v. Montgomery, No. 2012–1212.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • August 24, 2016
    ...of due process.’ " Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 618, 118 S.Ct. 1604, 140 L.Ed.2d 828 (1998), quoting Smith v. O'Grady, 312 U.S. 329, 334, 61 S.Ct. 572, 85 L.Ed. 859 (1941). {¶ 43} We have acknowledged that when a trial court engages in a full Crim.R. 11 plea colloquy with the def......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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