Bush v. Texas

LOCATION: Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

CITATION: 372 US 586 (1963)
ARGUED: Feb 26, 1963
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Bush v. Texas

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 26, 1963 in Bush v. Texas

Earl Warren:

Number 511, James E. Bush, Petitioner, versus Bruce Allen -- versus Texas rather.

You may proceed, Mr. Wright.

Charles Alan Wright:

Mr. Chief Justice may it please the Court.

This case raises the question first, whether the State of Texas denied the petitioner merely because he is poor, an adequate opportunity to sustain a plea of insanity.

It raises beyond that, if in fact that’s what happened, made the State do this consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment.

The case is here on writ of certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals in the State of Texas.

Petitioner was convicted of the crime of felony theft of having stolen a coin collection valued at about $600 from his employer.

As habitual criminal, the sentence was laid.

There is no issue here in regard whether the crime was committed or any matter of that sort.

The entire issue here has to do with the proceedings to determine his plea that he was not guilty by reason of insanity or that he was insane at the time of the trial and therefore not competent to stand in the trial.

The facts with regard to that issue are these: Petitioner was arrested and incarcerated in October of 1960.

He was indicted in February of 1961 and trial set for late April 1961.

Three weeks before trial, because the petitioner was indigent, the Court appointed an attorney to represent him.

That attorney on April 21st, 1961, three days before the case was set for trial, made two motions for the trial court.

In each motion, counsel recited that the petitioner was indigent, that he was without means to acquire expert assistance to sustain his plea of insanity.

In one motion he asked that the petitioner be committed to a state mental hospital for examination and observation of his mental condition.

In the other motion, he asked the Court to appoint a psychiatrist or that it provide funds to retain a psychiatrist to assist the defense in the trial of the case.

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Wright, I know you're here trying to prevail on what seemed to you important constitutional questions, but I trust that before your argument is finished, you’ll tell us what do you think is the effect of the supplemental brief which had been filed for the respondent yesterday I think, showing that --

Charles Alan Wright:

I'd be very glad, Justice Stewart, to tell you that immediately.

The supplemental brief which was filed I think sometime in the end of last week, I saw it on Sunday, sets out two things.

It sets out a report of a Dr. Hug, a state psychiatrist to examine the petitioner at the state penitentiary, the date is not shown in the supplemental brief, but the date was February 6th, as the original of this report indicates of this year.

Doctor Hug reports that the petitioner suffers from simple schizophrenia and that he has been not responsible or best partial responsible for his actions for many years.

Exhibit B of the supplemental brief, his statement, that under the statutory procedure which we have in Texas, the director of prisons has had the petitioner transferred from the state prison to the state mental hospital.

Now, the Court asked, what effect does this have on this case?

In my view, Your Honor, it has none.

It does not make the case moot and this, I take it, was the only purpose for which a document of this sort might properly be brought before the Court at this late stage.

Petitioner still stands under a criminal conviction.

He still is subject to being returned to prison.

In fact, the same statute under which he was transferred on I believe Thursday of last week to the mental hospital, Article 932-1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure goes on to provide in Section 15, that if at any time the director of the mental hospital finds that he has been cured or, and I think this maybe more important in this case, if he finds that the prisoner will not benefit from continued hospitalization, in that event, the prisoner shall be returned to penitentiary to serve the unexpired portion of the sentence.

Potter Stewart:

I was thinking, Mr. Wright, not so much of mootness as I was of a -- the equivalent of a confession of error.