Fallen v. United States
378 U.S. 139 (1964)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fallen v. United States, 378 U.S. 139 (1964)

Fallen v. United States

No. 210

Argued April 30, 1964

Decided June 22, 1964

378 U.S. 139

Syllabus

Petitioner appeared for sentencing on January 15, 1962, with his court-appointed attorney. After sentences aggregating 20 years were imposed, petitioner asked the court if he could appeal "as an insolvent," and was advised that he could. His attorney then withdrew from the case, and petitioner was transported to hospital facilities away from the place of trial. On January 29, 14 days after sentencing, the clerk received letters from petitioner asking for a new trial and for an appeal. The letters were dated January 23 by petitioner, and, if actually mailed by him on that date, would in the normal course of events have been received by the clerk within the 10-day requirement of Rule 37(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Court of Appeals dismissed petitioner's appeal, however, because the letters were not actually received within that time.

Held:

1. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure should not be inflexibly applied without regard to the circumstances. P. 378 U. S. 142.

2. As far as this record discloses, petitioner, who was without the benefit of counsel, did all that could reasonably be expected to file his appeal within the allotted time, and accordingly he should not be barred from having his appeal heard on the merits. Pp. 378 U. S. 142-144.

306 F.2d 697, reversed and case remanded.

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