United States v. Fay

Decision Date08 April 1960
Citation183 F. Supp. 222
PartiesUNITED STATES of America ex rel. Charles NOIA, Relator, v. Edward M. FAY, as Warden of Green-haven Prison, State of New York, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of New York

Maurice Edelbaum, New York City, for relator.

Edward S. Silver, Dist. Atty., Kings County, Brooklyn, N. Y., William I. Siegel, Asst. Dist. Atty., Brooklyn, N. Y., of counsel, for respondent.

CASHIN, District Judge.

This is an application for a writ of habeas corpus by a State court prisoner. The relator, through his attorney, alleges that he has been deprived of his constitutional rights because he has been convicted on the basis of a coerced confession.

It is conceded that the relator did not appeal the judgment of conviction and that a subsequent petition for a writ of error coram nobis, although granted by the County Court of Kings County, People v. Noia, 3 Misc.2d 447, 158 N.Y.S.2d 683, was reversed by the Appellate Division, Second Department, 4 A.D.2d 698, 163 N.Y.S.2d 796, and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, People v. Caminito, 3 N.Y.2d 596, 170 N.Y.S. 2d 799, 148 N.E.2d 139. The Supreme Court subsequently denied certiorari, 357 U.S. 905, 78 S.Ct. 1149, 2 L.Ed.2d 1156.

Relator relies upon the abortive coram nobis proceeding as exhausting his State court remedies. I have grave doubt as to the efficacy of the coram nobis proceeding as exhausting his State court remedies. Accordingly, even though the issue has not been raised by the petition or the answering affidavit of the District Attorney, I deem it advisable to grant a hearing on the writ, limited at this time to the circumstances surrounding the failure of the relator to take an appeal in the first instance.

The hearing on the writ shall be held on the 31st day of March, 1960, at two P. M. At this hearing the parties shall present any evidence available to them concerning the issues to be determined on the hearing.

Let the attorney for the relator submit a writ.

It is so ordered.

On the Merits

This is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus brought by the relator's attorney.

The relator, along with two others, namely, Frank Bonino and Santo Caminito, was arrested on Sunday, May 11, 1941, by the New York City Police Department in connection with a homicide which occurred during the commission of an armed robbery on February 16, 1941, on the streets of Brooklyn.1 Each of the three arrested later confessed to the crime under investigation, were indicted and were found guilty of murder in the first degree. The only evidence adduced at the trial was the fact that the crime had been committed and the confessions of the defendants.

The trial was conducted on the theory of "felony murder". Under New York State law the death sentence is not mandatory in a felony murder case. Rather, the jury may recommend mercy and if this recommendation is accepted by the court a sentence of life imprisonment is imposed. In the trial, of which the relator presently complains, the jury recommended mercy for all three defendants. Although the trial court ultimately accepted the recommendation as to all three, the acceptance as to the relator was made with great reluctance since the relator had confessed to being the defendant who had actually perpetrated the homicide.

The defendants, Bonino and Caminito, appealed their conviction to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department and, on affirmance by that court, to the Court of Appeals of the State of New York. In these appeals there was presented for consideration by the appellate courts the federal constitutional question of denial of due process because of the admission of coerced confessions. The convictions were affirmed by both courts. Neither defendant petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States for certiorari at that time. The relator did not appeal at all. Sometime later, the codefendant Caminito moved in the Court of Appeals of New York for reargument. This reargument was denied (People v. Caminito, 297 N.Y. 882, 79 N.E.2d 277). At still a later time Caminito moved again for reargument and again reargument was denied (307 N.Y. 686, 120 N.E.2d 857).2 Caminito then made a timely petition to the Supreme Court of the United States for review by certiorari. This petition was denied (348 U.S. 839, 75 S.Ct. 46, 99 L.Ed. 662). After the denial of certiorari, Caminito petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging deprivation of his constitutional rights because of the use of a coerced confession. The petition was dismissed (United States ex rel. Caminito v. Murphy, D.C., 127 F.Supp. 689). On appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit the denial of the petition was reversed and on the basis of the state court record the confession was held to have been coerced (222 F.2d 698). Caminito was released and is still at liberty although he remains under indictment.

Taking advantage of Caminito's successful proceedings Bonino moved in the Court of Appeals of New York for reargument. This motion was granted (People v. Bonino, 309 N.Y. 950, 132 N.E.2d 320) and, on the reargument, Bonino was successful, the Court of Appeals of New York reversing the conviction on the authority of the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the Caminito case (1 N.Y.2d 752, 152 N.Y.S.2d 298, 135 N.E.2d 51). Bonino is also presently at liberty although still under indictment.

The relator was not able, of course, to follow the proceedings pursued by either Caminito or Bonino since he had not appealed the original conviction. Rather, the relator brought in the sentencing court, the County Court of Kings County, a proceeding in the nature of a writ of error coram nobis. This proceeding was successful, the conviction was set aside and the relator was released. However, upon appeal the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Second Department reversed the County Court, the Court of Appeals of New York affirmed the reversal, and the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari. People v. Noia, County Court, 3 Misc.2d 447, 158 N.Y.S.2d 683; Appellate Division, 4 A.D.2d 698, 163 N.Y.S.2d 796; Court of Appeals, 3 N.Y.2d 596, 170 N.Y.S.2d 799; Supreme Court, 357 U.S. 905, 78 S.Ct. 1149, 2 L.Ed.2d 1156. Subsequently, the instant proceedings were commenced in this court. A Judge of this court entertained the petition and ordered the respondent to show cause why the writ should not issue. On the argument of the order to show cause I issued the writ for the limited purpose of a hearing on the circumstances surrounding the relator's failure to appeal the conviction in the first instance. The hearing was held on March 31, 1960. At this hearing the relator testified on behalf of himself and his trial attorney testified on behalf of the respondent. Based upon the state court proceedings and that hearing I have determined that the writ must be dismissed.

Section 2254 of Title 28 U.S.C. provides that—

"An application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, or that there is either an absence of available State corrective process or the existence of circumstances rendering such process ineffective to protect the rights of the prisoner.
"An applicant shall not be deemed to have exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State, within the meaning of this section, if he has the right under the law of the State to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented."

In one sense, of course, the relator has exhausted his state court remedies since there is no proceeding available to him in the State, apart, of course, from executive clemency, which can effect his release from a patently unconstitutional detention.3 However, exhaustion of state court remedies does not only mean that at the time of the petition before the Federal District Court there is no remedy available in the State. It further means that the relator has availed himself of at least one corrective process available in the courts of the state if there be such a process. Ex parte Hawk, 1944, 321 U.S. 114, 64 S.Ct. 448, 88 L.Ed. 572; Brown v. Allen, 1953, 344 U.S. 443, 73 S.Ct. 397, 97 L.Ed. 469. That there was a state court process available to the relator is obvious since the codefendants have obtained their releases.

The relator claims that he has invoked a corrective process in the state court by means of the coram nobis proceeding. In my prior Memorandum in this case filed on March 14, 1960, ordering that the writ issue, I characterized the coram nobis proceeding as "abortive". I utilized this term since the Court of Appeals held, in its opinion on the coram nobis proceeding, that the relator could not obtain a review of his conviction by coram nobis because of the coerced confession since such review could have been obtained by appeal. Thus, it is clear that the constitutional question presented here was not passed upon by the state appellate courts in either the coram nobis proceeding, because the court would not consider the question, nor in direct appellate proceedings because the relator took no appeal.

The relator has not, therefore, within the meaning of Title 28 U.S.C. § 2254, exhausted his state court remedies. I had thought that perhaps a hearing on the circumstances surrounding the relator's failure to appeal might reveal some exceptional circumstance which would excuse the lack of invocation of the ordinary appellate procedure. The hearing, however, utterly failed to reveal any such circumstance.

Relator's trial counsel testified that he had advised relator of his rights to appeal. The relator did not at all deny that he knew of his rights to appeal. He, however, testified that he did not appeal...

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8 cases
  • Stone v. Powell Wolff v. Rice
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 6 d2 Julho d2 1976
    ...but the District Court followed Daniels in holding that Noia's failure to appeal barred habeas corpus review. See United States v. Fay, 183 F.Supp. 222, 225 (SDNY1960). The Court of Appeals reversed, ordering that Noia's conviction be set aside and that he be released from custody or that a......
  • United States v. La Vallee
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of New York
    • 24 d2 Janeiro d2 1961
    ...752, 152 N.Y.S.2d 298, 135 N.E.2d 51; People v. Caminito, 3 N.Y.2d 596, 170 N.Y.S.2d 799, 148 N.E. 2d 139; see also United States ex rel. Noia v. Fay, D.C., 183 F.Supp. 222. The unanimous refusal to follow the findings and decision of the Wade case by the Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, i......
  • Fay v. Noia, 84
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 18 d1 Março d1 1963
    ...shall not be granted unless it appears that the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State * * *.' 183 F.Supp. 222 (1960).3 The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed, one judge dissenting, and ordered that Noia's conviction be set aside and that he ......
  • Presnell v. Kemp
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • 11 d1 Janeiro d1 1988
    ...courts from passing on his claim. The district court adopted the state's argument and denied the writ. United States ex rel. Noia v. Fay, 183 F.Supp. 222 (S.D.N.Y.1960). The Second Circuit reversed. United States ex rel. Noia v. Fay, 300 F.2d 345 (2d Cir.1962). The court of appeals "questio......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Racial Justice and Federal Habeas Corpus as Postconviction Relief from State Convictions
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 69-2, January 2018
    • Invalid date
    ...to retain an attorney to prosecute the appeal and did not wish to put his family further into debt." United States ex. rel. Noia v. Fay, 183 F. Supp. 222, 225 (S.D.N.Y. 1960).229. Neuborne, supra note 182, at 68.230. 344 U.S. 443 (1953).231. Noia, 372 U.S. at 414, 416-17. As Neuborne says o......

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