Canizio v. New York
327 U.S. 82 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Canizio v. New York, 327 U.S. 82 (1946)

Canizio v. New York

No. 152

Argued January 4, 1946

Decided February 4, 1946

327 U.S. 82

Syllabus

Petitioner, being under a state court sentence of imprisonment for 15 to 30 years on a plea of guilty to a charge of robbery and having served almost 14 years, instituted proceedings in a county court by a motion coram nobis praying that the sentence be vacated and set aside. He alleged under oath that, at the time of his arraignment, guilty plea, and sentence, he was 19 years old, and unfamiliar with legal proceedings, that he was not represented by counsel, that the court neither asked him if he desired counsel nor advised him of his right to counsel, and that the acceptance of his guilty plea and the sentencing under these circumstances deprived him of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. In opposition to the motion, the district attorney filed an affidavit admitting that the court records failed to show that petitioner had been represented by counsel when he was arraigned and when he pleaded guilty, but denying that he was not represented by counsel when sentenced, and alleging that notice of appearance of counsel on behalf of petitioner was filed two days before sentence was imposed. Petitioner filed no denial. The record of the original proceedings in which petitioner was sentenced showed that he was actively represented by counsel in long hearings during the day of sentence. The court denied petitioner's motion on the basis of the aforementioned papers, including the record of the original proceedings, without permitting petitioner to introduce any evidence.

Held:

1. The motion coram nobis being a proper procedure to raise the federal question under the state practice, and the county court's denial of the motion not being appealable to any higher state court, this Court has jurisdiction to consider the case. P. 327 U. S. 85.

2. Had there been nothing to contradict petitioner's allegation that he was not represented by counsel in the interim between his plea of guilty and the time he was sentenced, his charges would have been such as to have required the court to hold a hearing on his motion. P. 327 U. S. 85.

3. The new facts disclosed by the district attorney's affidavit being undenied, and the record of the original proceedings showing

Page 327 U. S. 83

that petitioner was actively represented by counsel in long hearings during the day of sentence, so far refuted petitioner's entire constitutional claim as to justify the county court's holding that a hearing on his motion was unnecessary. P. 327 U. S. 85.

4. Since counsel who represented petitioner on the day of sentence could have moved to withdraw the plea of guilty and let him stand trial, and petitioner had counsel in ample time to take advantage of every defense which would have been available to him originally, it cannot be said that the court denied petitioner the right to have a trial with the benefit of counsel. P. 327 U. S. 85.

Affirmed.

Petitioner instituted a coram nobis proceeding in the County Court of Kings County, New York, praying that a sentence which had been imposed on him on a plea of guilty be vacated on the ground, inter alia, that he had been deprived of his liberty without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The motion having been denied, and there being no appeal to a higher state court, this Court granted certiorari. 326 U.S. 705. Affirmed, p. 327 U. S. 87.

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