Woods v. Beto

Decision Date05 October 1972
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 5-1081.
Citation348 F. Supp. 573
PartiesWilliam Ray WOODS, Petitioner, v. Dr. George J. BETO, Director, Texas Department of Corrections, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Texas

Thomas J. Griffith, Griffith, Brister & Benson, Lubbock, Tex., for petitioner.

Crawford C. Martin, Atty. Gen. of Texas, Lonnie F. Zwiener, Asst. Atty. Gen. of Texas, Austin, Tex., for respondent.


WOODWARD, District Judge.

William Ray Woods, the petitioner in this action, is in state custody pursuant to a judgment and sentence of the 106th District Court of Garza County, Texas, Cause No. 718, styled State of Texas versus William Ray Woods. At a jury trial he was convicted on the 20th day of December, 1951, of the felony offense of murder with malice and the judge of that court sentenced the petitioner in accordance with the verdict to 50 years in the penitentiary.

This application for a writ of habeas corpus was filed on behalf of petitioner under Title 28 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq.

In this application petitioner asks for habeas corpus relief, and in support thereof asserts that his conviction is constitutionally void and should be set aside on the following grounds:

A. That petitioner was afforded ineffective assistance of counsel at his trial thereby denying his rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

B. That he has been effectively denied his right to appeal his conviction and have counsel on appeal, a denial of Fifth Amendment rights.

C. That those of the Negro race, of which petitioner is a member, were systematically and deliberately excluded from service on the grand jury and petit juries in Garza County, Texas prior to and at the time of his conviction, as were all Spanish surnamed persons, denying his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

The petitioner had previously asked this Court for habeas corpus relief and by order dated January 18, 1971 in Cause No. CA-5-753, 324 F.Supp. 982, the Court denied this relief. This order is here referred to as it will be pertinent to the discussion set forth below. In accordance with this order petitioner again applied to the convicting state court for relief and an evidentiary hearing was held by the state court on May 19, 1971, the petition was denied on June 30, 1971, with supporting findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the Court of Criminal Appeals of the State of Texas in Ex parte Woods, 483 S.W.2d 464, on July 26, 1972 further denied petitioner's right to relief. The application now under consideration was then filed on behalf of petitioner in this court.

The petitioner has presented the above three grounds to proper courts in the State of Texas and he has exhausted his state remedies and this court has jurisdiction over this petition.

This Court has again reviewed all of the matters presented to it in connection with his application under Cause No. 5-753, has reviewed the record of the evidentiary hearing in the state court, and all of the pleadings and other matters filed in support thereof and in opposition thereto.

With respect to Ground No. 1 above, ineffective assistance of counsel, this Court has exhaustively reconsidered this question on which relief was denied by this Court's order on January 18, 1971. A review of all of the submissions and evidence submitted to the state court and to this Court leads this Court to the conclusion that defendant's counsel gave very effective representation to the defendant in every regard save one: although he indicated to petitioner that he had the right to appeal, counsel did not inform him he had the right to counsel on appeal, including appointed counsel if he could not afford one.

Although this Court originally held that there was no deprivation of the petitioner's right to appeal his conviction in 1951, and also held that counsel was effective at the trial, subsequent evidence which has been presented to the state court at the evidentiary hearing and which is now available to this Court, causes this Court to withdraw its findings and conclusions in this respect. The Court is of the opinion that the petitioner has effectively been deprived of his right of appeal and assistance of counsel on appeal, and that he has not waived such right, and that failure of his counsel to fully inform him of all his rights on appeal constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel. Thomas v. Beto, 423 F.2d 642 (5th Cir. 1970).

Judge Louis B. Read, the presiding judge at the trial which resulted in the conviction of the petitioner, and now retired, testified at the evidentiary hearing on petitioner's application to the state court. The judge stated unequivocally that he did not advise the petitioner that he had the right to appeal. Tr. 114-115 Further, appointed counsel, the Honorable Pat Walker of Post, Texas, testified at the evidentiary hearing that although he discussed grounds for a motion for new trial, he in effect informed the petitioner that he did not have the financial resources to continue the appeal Tr. 89, which would be tantamount to informing petitioner that he, as counsel, could not represent him further.

The evidence also indicates that petitioner's attorney had him sign a motion for new trial, but that he did not understand his right to appeal or his right to have an attorney upon appeal Tr. 26. Finally, that motion for new trial was before the court but the petitioner was confused as to the court's ruling on that motion Tr. 31.

To show a denial of appeal or counsel on appeal it must be shown that a) the court knew the criminal defendant was indigent and b) the court knew that the defendant wished to appeal. Beto v. Martin, 396 F.2d 432 (5th Cir. 1968).

Petitioner meets both of the prerequisites set forth in Martin (supra). The court obviously knew that petitioner was indigent because that court had appointed counsel to represent him at the trial. Even though petitioner did not announce a desire to appeal in open court, the court must have had adequate cognizance of petitioner's desire to appeal through the motion for new trial and the colloquy that took place at the time of sentencing.

It cannot be said that petitioner waived his right to appeal or have counsel on appeal. Petitioner is a product of only an elementary education, without any previous experience in criminal or court matters, and although some might be deemed to have known that a motion for new trial was a part of the appellate process and knowledge of the right to appeal could have been imputed to them, this Court does not find that such knowledge could be imputed to the petitioner in this case. There is no testimony that he was ever directly informed of the right to appeal, there is no evidence that he was informed that on appeal he would have the right to an attorney and if he was indigent that the court would appoint an attorney to represent him. Although circumstances and evidence before this Court at the original hearing in this matter in Cause No. 5-753, led the Court to the conclusion that all of the matters and knowledge, including those concerning the motion for new trial, were sufficient to inform petitioner of his right to appeal, the new evidence now brought before the Court as to the testimony of the presiding judge and the additional testimony by his appointed counsel that he could not represent the petitioner establish (1) that the petitioner did not know that he had the right to appeal (2) that he did not know that he had a right to counsel (3) that he did not know that if he could not afford counsel on his own that one...

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2 cases
  • Foster v. Sparks
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • January 20, 1975
    ...States v. McIntyre, 467 F.2d 274, 276-277 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 410 U.S. 911, 93 S.Ct. 972, 35 L.Ed.2d 274 (1972); Woods v. Beto, 348 F.Supp. 573, 577 (W.D.Tex.1972); United States v. Leonetti, 291 F.Supp. 461, 475 (S.D.N.Y.1968).116 See generally, the rule of exclusion cases, note 51 s......
  • Farrington v. State of North Carolina
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of North Carolina
    • March 25, 1975
    ...Estelle, 488 F.2d 929, 931 (5th Cir. 1974). A court must know that a criminal defendant is indigent and wishes to appeal. Woods v. Beto, 348 F.Supp. 573 (N.D. Tex.1972). The petitioner's allegation that he is being denied access to the courts for the reason that the respondent does not prov......

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