Anders v. California

RESPONDENT: California
LOCATION: Former Spot Club Location

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 386 US 738 (1967)
ARGUED: Mar 14, 1967
DECIDED: May 08, 1967

Facts of the case


Media for Anders v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 14, 1967 in Anders v. California

Earl Warren:

Number 98, Charles Robert Anders, Petitioner, versus California.

Mr. Heyman.

Ira Michael Heyman:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is on certiorari to the Supreme Court of California from that Court's denial of a petition for habeas corpus.

The case involves whether petitioner, an indigent, was provided appointed counsel on his direct appeal from a criminal conviction consistently with the requirements of due process and equal protection especially as stated in Douglas versus California.

Petitioner was convicted of possession of marijuana in 1957 after a jury trial at which he had been represented by the public defender.

He sought to appeal in forma pauperis in the California courts.

A transcript -- a full transcript was provided and counsel was appointed to represent him.

Counsel, however, informed the appellate court that he, the counsel would not file a brief, because in his opinion, there was no merit to the appeal.

Petitioner then requested the appointment of another attorney.

This request was denied by the District Court of Appeals in California and petitioner was advised that he could file a brief pro se or allow the District Court of Appeal to decide the appeal on the record.

Petitioner filed a pro se brief, the state filed a lengthy answering brief, petitioner filed a pro se response.

And the California District Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction.

This occurred in 1959.

In January of 1965 after this Court's decision in Douglas versus California, petitioner sought habeas corpus in the California District Court of Appeal to reinstate his original appeal.

The District Court of Appeal denied his petition.

Petitioner relied in his petition for habeas corpus on Douglas versus California alleging that he had been denied a federal right to representation by counsel on his direct appeal from the original conviction.

The order of the District Court of Appeals denying the reinstatement of the appeal was on the merits for it cited a California case In re Nash, a post-Douglas decision of the California Supreme Court as the basis for the denial of the writ.

The In re Nash case indicates that the procedure originally applied in this case meets in the view of the California Supreme Court the requirements of the Douglas case.

Petitioner then sought habeas corpus on the same grounds in the Supreme Court of California.

In California, there is no direct appeal from the denial of a petition for habeas corpus rather the petitioner seeks the same writ in the higher court.

The Supreme Court of California denied the petition for habeas corpus without opinion.

The question here is whether the California procedure concerning counsel on appeal that was followed in this case adequately meets the requirements of Douglas.

Under that procedure which is in issue here, one that was approved, as I had stated in the case of In re Nash.

The District Court of Appeal on the first appeal as of right in a criminal conviction concerning an indigent proceeds to consider the case on the record and without lawyer prepared briefs for the defendant and without oral argument if appointed counsel files a so-called no merit letter with the appellate court.

There is no procedure testing the adequacy of the counsel's determination that there is no merit in the sense that the case ought not to be argued by a lawyer in behalf of the indigent.

Potter Stewart:

Now Mr. Heyman you said --

Ira Michael Heyman:

Yes sir?

Potter Stewart:

-- these no-merit letters come obviously in the absence of briefs, but did you say in the absence of any record before the Supreme Court?

Ira Michael Heyman:

No sir, the District Court of Appeals has a full record of the case.