Petitioner, an Iowa state prisoner, sought habeas corpus in the
state court, claiming, inter alia,
denial of counsel at
preliminary hearing. After a hearing at which petitioner had no
counsel, the trial court found against him on the facts.
Thereafter, petitioner's motions for counsel and for a free
transcript of the habeas corpus proceeding for use on appeal were
denied by the trial court on the ground that habeas corpus is a
civil action. The Iowa Supreme Court refused to review the trial
court's denials of these motions.
the State must furnish the indigent petitioner
with a copy of the transcript, which is readily available, since an
indigent cannot be deprived of appellate review of an adverse
decision in a post-conviction proceeding as adequate as that
afforded prisoners who can purchase a transcript.
Reversed and remanded.
Petitioner was convicted of larceny and sentenced on October 21,
1963, to a term not to exceed five years. This conviction was
affirmed on appeal to the Supreme Court of Iowa (State v.
256 Iowa 1304, 130 N.W.2d 663
(1964)), and petitioner is currently serving his sentence in the
state penitentiary. On January 13, 1965, petitioner sought a writ
of habeas corpus in the District Court of Iowa, Lee County, and
contended, inter alia,
Page 385 U. S. 193
that he had been denied counsel at the preliminary hearing and
that he himself had been incompetent at the time. After an
evidentiary hearing at which petitioner was not afforded the
assistance of court-appointed counsel, the District Court found
against petitioner on the facts of his claims. [Footnote 1
] Petitioner thereupon applied to the
District Court for appointment of counsel and for a free transcript
of the habeas corpus proceeding, for use on appeal. The District
Court denied these motions on the following ground:
"Habeas corpus being a civil action, there is no provision in
the law for the furnishing of a transcript without the payment of
fee, or for the appointment of counsel."
Petitioner sought certiorari to review this decision from the
Supreme Court of Iowa. Certiorari was denied without opinion
] by that court.
] On petition
Page 385 U. S. 194
for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Iowa, this
Court granted the writ limited solely to the refusal to furnish
petitioner, an indigent, with a transcript of the habeas corpus
proceeding, for purpose of appeal.
The judgment below must be reversed. The State properly concedes
that, under our decisions in Smith v. Bennett,
365 U. S. 708
(1961), and Lane v. Brown, 372 U.
"to interpose any financial consideration between an indigent
prisoner of the State and his exercise of a state right to sue for
his liberty is to deny that prisoner the equal protection of the
Smith v. Bennett, supra,
at 365 U. S. 709
We specifically held in Smith
that, having established a
post-conviction procedure, a State cannot condition its
availability to an indigent upon any financial consideration. And
we held in Lane
that the same rule applies to protect an
indigent against a financial obstacle to the exercise of a
state-created right to appeal from an adverse decision in a
In Lane v. Brown, supra,
at 372 U. S. 483
the Court reaffirmed the fundamental principle of Griffin v.
Illinois, 351 U. S. 12
351 U. S. 19
(1956), that "[d]estitute defendants must be afforded as adequate
appellate review as defendants who have money enough to buy
transcripts." The Court in Lane
went on to observe that
had established "that these principles were not to
be limited to direct appeals from criminal convictions, but
extended alike to state post-conviction proceedings." 372 U.S. at
372 U. S. 484
See also Eskridge v. Washington State Board, 357 U.
(1958); Burns v. Ohio, 360 U.
(1959); Draper v. Washington,
372 U. S. 487
The State suggests that there may be alternative ways of
preparing, for purposes of appeal, an account of the relevant
proceeding at the trial level. Cf. Draper v. Washington,
In the present case, a transcript is
Page 385 U. S. 195
available and could easily have been furnished. We need not
consider a possible situation where a transcript cannot reasonably
be made available and adequate alternatives are made available by
the State. Accordingly, the judgment below must be reversed, and
the cause remanded to the Supreme Court of Iowa for further
proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Reversed and remanded.
As to the claim of lack of counsel at the preliminary hearing,
the State now concedes that petitioner was not, in fact,
represented at that time (although the District Court found to the
contrary). Petitioner alleged in his petition for habeas corpus
that a guilty plea obtained at the preliminary hearing was
introduced as an admission at his criminal trial. The State
concedes that, if this is true, petitioner "probably is entitled to
relief in habeas corpus under White v. Maryland,
373 U. S. 59
Attorney General of Iowa has ruled that White
applicable to preliminary hearings in Iowa because guilty pleas, if
made at that time, may later be used as admissions of guilt. 1964
Opinions of the Attorney General of Iowa 160 (October 5, 1964).
The court's order reads: "Petition for certiorari filed,
considered, and denied. See, in this connection, Waldon v.
District Court of Lee County, Iowa, 130 N.W.2d 728
case held only that a State need not provide
appointed counsel on appeal from the denial of habeas corpus; it
does not so much as refer to the transcript problem, to which this
Court limited the grant of certiorari in this case.
Petitioner's notice of appeal to the Supreme Court of Iowa was
timely and properly filed. His appeal is pending before that court,
and disposition has been stayed until the outcome of this