State of Texas v. Grundstrom

Decision Date25 October 1968
Docket NumberNo. 25423.,25423.
PartiesThe STATE OF TEXAS et al., Appellants, v. Daniel GRUNDSTROM, Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

Robert E. Owen, Asst. Atty. Gen., Austin, Tex., William F. Alexander, Asst. Dist. Atty., Dallas, Tex., for appellants.

Charles Alan Wright, Austin, Tex., Luther E. Jones, Jr., Corpus Christi, Tex., Warren Burnett, Odessa, Tex., for appellee.

Before RIVES, GEWIN and THORNBERRY, Circuit Judges.

GEWIN, Circuit Judge:

Grundstrom's petition for a writ of habeas corpus was granted by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas and the State of Texas perfected an appeal. Thereafter the State filed with this court a motion to dismiss the appeal. Grundstrom filed no objections to the State's motion to dismiss, but requested this court to impose certain conditions upon the dismissal. We grant the State's motion to dismiss but decline to impose the requested conditions.

On February 22, 1962, Grundstrom was convicted by a jury of robbery in the Criminal District Court No. 3 of Dallas County, Texas. The jury assessed his punishment at 25 years imprisonment. Grundstrom appealed his conviction to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals claiming that evidence used at his trial had been seized in violation of the fourth and fourteenth amendments. The state court held that Grundstrom had waived his right to challenge the admissibility of the evidence by virtue of his counsel's failure to make timely objection to the testimony. Grundstrom v. State, 363 S.W.2d 945 (1963). Subsequently, Grundstrom sought a writ of habeas corpus in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals claiming that his conviction was tainted by evidence seized in violation of his constitutional rights and that he did not waive his right to challenge this evidence. The court denied the petition without opinion.

On April 18, 1966, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The proceeding was transferred to the Northern District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d) as amended September 19, 1966. On August 4, 1967, the district court filed an opinion holding that evidence obtained in violation of the fourth and fourteenth amendments had been improperly admitted and that Grundstrom had not waived his right to object to the evidence. Grundstrom v. Beto, 273 F.Supp. 912 (N.D.Tex.1967). Consequently, the court by its order on August 24, 1967, granted Grundstrom's petition for habeas corpus with the proviso that "issuance of the writ and accordant discharge will be stayed for sixty (60) days, in order to permit the State of Texas, if it so desires, to retry the petitioner." A motion by the State for reconsideration was heard on September 8, 1967, and denied, with memorandum, on September 18. Grundstrom v. Beto, supra at page 922.

The State of Texas filed its notice of appeal to this court on September 22, 1967, and on October 20 the district court on application of the State, stayed its order of August 24 "pending perfection and determination of said appeal. * * *" On October 24 while the State's appeal was pending in this court, a new indictment was returned against Grundstrom by the Dallas County Grand Jury. The new indictment charged Grundstrom with the identical offense of robbery charged in the original indictment, but in addition, it contained enhancement averments that, on conviction, would make a life sentence mandatory under Vernon's Ann.Texas Penal Code, Art. 63.

On January 2, 1968, the new indictment was brought on for trial. The case was passed due to the pendency of the appeal. Thereafter, on January 4, 1968, the State filed with this court a motion to dismiss its appeal. Then the State, on January 8, again brought on the new indictment for trial and once again the state court passed it because of the pendency of the appeal. This court by order of January 16 assigned the State's motion to dismiss its appeal to a regular panel of this court for hearing.

As stated earlier, Grundstrom does not object to the motion to dismiss, but seeks a conditional dismissal. Specifically, he asks us to provide that he not be retried. Such request is made on the theory that the State of Texas was guilty of bad faith in appealing the judgment of the district court, and since Texas did not retry him within the 60 days allowed by the court's order of August 24, he cannot now be retried. Alternatively, Grundstrom asks that we provide that if he is retried, such retrial be on the original charge, that he not be subject to any sentence more severe than the 25 year sentence originally imposed and that he be given credit for the time he has served under his 1962 conviction. This position was not taken by Grundstrom in the district court but is presented on this appeal for the first time.

Grundstrom relies heavily on the Fourth Circuit case of Patton v. State of North Carolina, 381 F.2d 636 (4 Cir. 1967), and unquestionably it may be argued that the decision in that case is respectable authority for his contentions, although the facts in Patton differ from those presented by the record in the instant case. Patton was first convicted without counsel and was given a 20 year sentence of which he served five years. Upon his second trial he was represented by counsel as required by Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 83 S.Ct. 792, 9 L.Ed.2d 799, 93 A.L.R.2d 733 (1963) but was again convicted and given another 20 year sentence. When his case reached the Fourth Circuit, Patton had already experienced what Grundstrom now fears. In Patton the court did not anticipate the existence of constitutional questions and then render an opinion on such anticipated issues. In view of the fact that he had been retried and resentenced the issues presented were ripe for decision. Grundstrom asks us to assume the existence of facts and circumstances which do not exist and indeed, may never actually occur. The record in the case sub judice does not present issues of due process, equal protection and double jeopardy as was true in Patton.

Grundstrom also contends that his position is supported by the rationale of cases decided in other circuits. See United States v. White, 382 F.2d 445 (7 Cir. 1967); United States ex rel. Starner v. Russell, 378 F.2d 808 (3 Cir. 1967); Walsh v. United States, 374 F.2d 421 (9 Cir. 1967); Marano v. United States, 374 F.2d 583 (1 Cir. 1967); United States ex rel. Hetenyi v. Wilkins, 348 F.2d 844 (2 Cir. 1965); United States v. Adams, 362 F.2d 210 (6 Cir. 1966). He further claims that his contentions fall within the spirit and meaning of Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 78 S.Ct. 221, 2 L.Ed.2d 199, 61 A.L.R.2d 1119 (1957).

The State of Texas admits that Patton v. State of North Carolina, supra, tends to support Grundstrom's contentions but it distinguishes all the other cited cases and claims that they more nearly support the position of the State. Moreover, the State distinguishes Green v. United States, supra, and contends that Stroud v. United States, 251 U.S. 15, 40 S.Ct. 50, 64 L.Ed. 103 (1919) supports its position. The State also relies on the Tenth Circuit cases of Newman v. Rodriguez, 375 F.2d 712 (10 Cir. 1967) and Boggs v. Raines, 273 F.2d 636 (10 Cir. 1959) as well as Hayes v. United States, 102 U.S.App.D.C. 1, 249 F.2d 516 (1957).

After much careful and prolonged thought concerning the several issues raised by Grundstrom, we feel that it is inappropriate for us to rule on constitutional questions which are not actually presented. Though Grundstrom strongly urges us to decide the constitutional questions he has raised and forcefully contends that we have the power to do so under 28 U.S.C. § 2243 wherein it is stated that the court shall "dispose of the matter as law and justice require," we think it is in the best interest of federal-state relations to decline and to allow the State of Texas to speak initially on these issues. See State of Texas v. Payton, 390 F.2d 261 (5 Cir. 1968). We have no doubt but that the State of Texas is competent to protect and will adequately protect all of Grundstrom's constitutional rights. See Peters v. Rutledge, 5 Cir. 1968, 397 F.2d 731 June 1968; Moore v. Dutton, 5 Cir. 1968, 396 F.2d 782 May 21, 1968; Clarke v. Grimes, 374 F.2d 550, 552 (5 Cir. 1967).1 We note that the State of Texas has recently broadened its post-conviction remedy, habeas corpus, which is available to Grundstrom, if re-convicted, to attack such conviction or any or all of the constitutional issues presented to us if such issues actually arise. The Federal Courts have no monopoly or "corner on the market" with respect to deciding Federal Constitutional issues. Indeed, state courts may be called upon to decide such issues more often than the federal judiciary, there are vastly more state courts than federal ones and federal constitutional issues are constantly arising in state court proceedings.2 In our view, Texas has made a good faith effort to protect the federal constitutional rights of its convicted defendants. See Texas v. Payton, supra.3 Consequently, we are of the opinion that under the facts and circumstances of this case, it would be premature for this court to decide the questions raised in response to the State's motion. Although this court has recognized the existence of the problem here presented, we have not ruled upon it. See Edge v. Wainwright, 347 F.2d 190 (5 Cir. 1965).4 See also Zaffarano v. Blackwell, 383 F.2d 719, 721 (5 Cir. 1967); Beufve v. United States, 374 F.2d 123, 125 (5 Cir. 1967). Recently in a different factual situation this Court approved an increased sentence. Odom v. United States, 403 F.2d 45 (5th Cir. 1968).

Our dissenting brother seems to have concluded that the only way Grundstrom will receive fair treatment in the state courts of Texas is for him to be acquitted and thus render all questions moot. We are unable to follow this line of reasoning. Other...

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