Rodriquez v. United States
395 U.S. 327 (1969)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Rodriquez v. United States, 395 U.S. 327 (1969)

Rodriquez v. United States

No. 749

Argued March 26, 1969

Decided June 2, 1969

395 U.S. 327

Syllabus

Petitioner, allegedly of Mexican descent with a limited knowledge of English, was convicted on several narcotics charges. Immediately after petitioner was sentenced in June, 1963, his retained counsel indicated orally that petitioner wished to appeal in forma pauperis. The trial judge, who did not advise petitioner of his right of appeal, told petitioner's counsel that all motions had to be in writing, and adjourned court. No written motions were filed, and petitioner's counsel did not submit a written notice of appeal within the 10-day limit. When petitioner later tried to file such a notice himself, the trial judge ruled that the expiration of the appeal period deprived the court of jurisdiction. Petitioner sought relief in the Court of Appeals, alleging that he told counsel to perfect an appeal, but that counsel had failed to do so. That court denied petitioner's motion for lack of jurisdiction, and also refused habeas corpus. Petitioner thereafter brought this action for post-conviction relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The District Court denied relief, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, both courts relying on a Ninth Circuit rule requiring a defendant who claims that he has been deprived of his right of appeal to disclose the errors to be claimed on appeal and to show that denial of an appeal had caused prejudice.

Held:

1. The Ninth Circuit rule is invalid, since (1) it makes an indigent defendant (who must prepare his petition under § 2255 without assistance of counsel) face "the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence" and (2) it requires the sentencing court to screen out supposedly unmeritorious appeals in summary fashion, a procedure rejected in Coppedge v. United States,369 U. S. 438. P. 395 U. S. 330.

2. Under the circumstances of this case, including the length of time since petitioner was sentenced, the trial judge's failure to advise him of his right to appeal, and failure to inquire into the circumstances surrounding petitioner's attempt to make an in forma pauperis motion, no hearing is required, and the case is remanded to the District Court, where petitioner should be resentenced so that he may perfect his appeal as prescribed by the applicable rules. Pp. 395 U. S. 331-332.

387 F.2d 117, reversed and remanded.

Page 395 U. S. 328

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