United States v. Murphy, Civ. A. No. 5450.

Decision Date11 January 1955
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 5450.
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, ex rel. Santo CAMINITO, Relator, v. Robert E. MURPHY, as Warden of Auburn Prison, State of New York, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of New York

Kaufman & Edelbaum, New York City, for petitioner, Maurice Edelbaum, New York City, of counsel.

Edward S. Silver, Dist. Atty., Kings County, Brooklyn, New York, William I. Siegel, of counsel, Asst. Dist. Atty., Kings County, Brooklyn, N. Y., Nathaniel L. Goldstein, Atty. Gen., of the State of New York, Manuel T. Murcia, Asst. Atty. Gen., of counsel, for the respondent.

FOLEY, District Judge.

The Relator, Santo Caminito, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. At my suggestion, his able attorney adopted the procedure set forth in Section 2243, Title 28, U.S.C.A. to have an order served upon the Warden of Auburn Prison, the Attorney General of the State of New York, and the District Attorney of Kings County, to show cause why a writ should not be issued directing the production of the prisoner to inquire into his alleged unlawful detention. It is a good procedure and I have used it several times to avoid the personal appearance of a long-term prisoner with the risk to security when it may be shown that such production is unnecessary. Upon the return of the order to show cause, the Assistant District Attorney of Kings County, by convincing argument and affidavit, convinces me that under the circumstances present, the production of the relator and further hearing in the matter would be an abuse of judicial power and discretion. A complete record of the trial is before me, submitted by the attorney for the relator, and includes the briefs that were submitted to the Court of Appeals of the State of New York. I also have the further advantage of the detailed and clear petition for a writ of certiorari, outlining fully the questions involved, that was filed during the October 1954 term, in the Supreme Court of the United States. The completeness in presentation of the constitutional issue involved obviates the repetition of testimony that was given at the trial in 1942, and in my judgment the interests of justice would not be served by further hearing and oral testimony. Such position is established by Darr v. Burford, 339 U.S. 200, 215-216, 70 S.Ct. 587, 94 L.Ed. 761; Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 463-465, 73 S.Ct. 397, 97 L.Ed. 469. To similar effect recently is U. S. ex rel. De Vita v. McCorkle, 3 Cir., 216 F.2d 743.

However, despite the apparent incongruity, and almost effrontery on the part of a single District Judge to review the careful determinations of the trial and appellate courts of New York, the duty to so act is settled. United States ex rel. Leyra v. Denno, 2 Cir., 208 F.2d 605, 606; Brown v. Allen, supra, 344 U. S. 458, 507, 508, 73 S.Ct. 397; Stein v. People of State of New York, 346 U.S. 156, 170, 180-182, 73 S.Ct. 1077, 97 L.Ed. 1522. In accordance with such uncomfortable duty, particularly as it entails a review of decisions of the Court of Appeals, long noted as one of the most competent, distinguished and conscientious courts in the nation, I have reviewed the record of the trial exhaustively and to the best of my ability. The question of coercion and extortion of involuntary confession by force or threat can only be answered by reviewing the circumstances surrounding the confession. Leyra v. Denno, 347 U.S. 556, 557, 74 S.Ct. 716.

Caminito was convicted in 1942 of murder in the first degree, in the County Court of Kings County, New York. The case was submitted to the jury only under the theory of felony murder. After a recommendation by the jury, pursuant to the law of New York, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Co-defendants, Noia and Bonino were convicted with him, and received similar sentences. Noia did not appeal, but Caminito and Bonino appealed through the courts of New York. The Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed unanimously with Presiding Judge Lazansky, pointing out error in the refusal of a request to charge, but stating that such error was overshadowed by the emphatic statements in the charge on the same subject matter. People v. Caminito, 265 App. Div. 960, 38 N.Y.S.2d 1019. The Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed without opinion under the power conferred upon it by Section 542 of the New York Code of Criminal Procedure in regard to technical errors or defects or exceptions that are unsubstantial as to the rights of the parties. People v. Bonino, 291 N.Y. 541, 50 N.E.2d 654.

In 1948 and 1954, motions in behalf of the relator for reargument were denied. People v. Caminito, 297 N.Y. 882, 79 N.E.2d 277; Id., 307 N.Y. 686, 120 N.E.2d 857. On October 14, 1954, a petition for certiorari was denied by the United States Supreme Court, 348 U.S. 839, 75 S.Ct. 46, with Justices Black and Douglas dissenting. The petition filed now states "the only issue presented on this application is whether, under the guarantees afforded to relator by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, relator was and is being deprived of his liberty without due process of law." The reading of the record will not allow me the drastic conclusion that the state procedures of New York, fairly and consistently established and used in regard to the issue of such confession, were conducted so differently, unreasonably and unfairly during the trial of the relator as to constitute violation or impairment of constitutional guarantees. The Fourteenth Amendment does not prevent jury trial of the (coercion) issue. Stein v. People of State of New York, supra, 346 U.S. at page 179, 73 S.Ct. at page 1090, 97 L.Ed. 1522. Decisive respect should be accorded the state decisions in the absence of the impeachment...

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  • Smith v. Jennings
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
    • January 14, 1957
    ...197 F.2d 687; United States v. Knight, D.C., 127 F.Supp. 269; United States v. Williams, D.C., 127 F. Supp. 420; United States ex rel. Caminito v. Murphy, D.C., 127 F.Supp. 689; United States ex rel. Peters v. Carson, D.C., 126 F.Supp. 137, It should be kept in mind that the plaintiffs base......
  • United States v. La Vallee
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of New York
    • January 24, 1961
    ...application in this District whether it has merit or not, and some of the reported cases beginning in 1955 are: United States ex rel. Caminito v. Murphy, D.C., 127 F.Supp. 689; 2 Cir., 222 F.2d 698, certiorari denied 350 U.S. 896, 76 S.Ct. 155, 100 L.Ed. 788; U. S. ex rel. Wade v. Jackson, ......
  • Fay v. Noia, 84
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 18, 1963
    ...Caminito then sought federal habeas corpus in the District Court for the Northern District of New York. The application was denied. 127 F.Supp. 689 (1955). The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed, sustaining Caminito's claim that his confession had been procured in violation of......
  • United States v. Fay
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • February 7, 1962
    ...law at his New York State trial by the admission against him of his coerced confession. His petition was denied, United States ex rel. Caminito v. Murphy, 127 F.Supp. 689 (1955), but on appeal to our court the district court was reversed, 2 Cir., 222 F. 2d 698 (1955). We held, as a matter o......
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