Smith v. Baldi
344 U.S. 561 (1953)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Smith v. Baldi, 344 U.S. 561 (1953)

United States ex rel. Smith v. Baldi

No. 31

Argued April 29-30, 1952

Reargued October 13-14, 1952

Decided February 9, 1953

344 U.S. 561

Syllabus

1. A denial of certiorari by this Court (with no statement of reasons therefor) to review a decision of a state supreme court affirming a conviction in a criminal prosecution should be given no weight in subsequent habeas corpus proceedings in a federal court. Brown v. Allen, ante, p. 344 U. S. 443. P. 344 U. S. 565.

2. Petitioner, sentenced to death by a state court for murder, was not denied due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment by virtue of his having been allowed to plead guilty without there first having been a formal adjudication of his sanity, in view of the procedure available for subsequently withdrawing the plea of guilty and entering a plea of "not guilty because of insanity." Pp. 344 U. S. 565-567.

3. Petitioner was not denied due process by reason of his having been summarily advised by court-designated counsel at his arraignment to plead "not guilty," since there was ample opportunity later to rectify the error, if there was error, by a hearing on insanity. Pp. 344 U. S. 567-568.

4. It was not the constitutional duty of the State, even upon request, to appoint a psychiatrist to make a pretrial examination into petitioner's sanity. P. 344 U. S. 568.

5. Petitioner's contention that an insane man may not be executed assumes erroneously that he has been found to be insane. The law of Pennsylvania, as announced by the State Supreme Court, protects against execution of the insane. Pp. 344 U. S. 568-569.

6. Upon the record in this case, the Federal District Court, on petitioner's application for habeas corpus, did not err in refusing to hold a plenary hearing for the determination of petitioner's sanity. Pp. 344 U. S. 569-570.

Page 344 U. S. 562

7. As the state trial and appellate court records which were before the District Court show a judicial hearing where, on the plea of guilty, the question of sanity at the time of the commission of the crime was canvassed, petitioner's sentence does not violate due process. P. 344 U. S. 570.

192 F.2d 540 affirmed.

Petitioner, a state prisoner, applied to the District Court for habeas corpus, and his application was dismissed. 96 F.Supp. 100. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 192 F.2d 540. This Court granted certiorari. 343 U.S. 903. Affirmed., p. 344 U. S. 570.

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