Caritativo v. California

PETITIONER: Caritativo
RESPONDENT: California
LOCATION: Hazlehurst Manufacturing Company

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 357 US 549 (1958)
ARGUED: May 21, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Caritativo v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 21, 1958 in Caritativo v. California

Earl Warren:

Number 562, William Francis Rupp, Petitioner, versus Fred R. Dickson, Warden.

Mr. Zirpoli.

A. J. Zirpoli:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

In the case of William Francis Rupp, certiorari was granted by this Court to review the denial of the Supreme Court of the State of California of a petition filed by Laura (Inaudible), the sister of the prisoner in condemned role in which she alleges and set forth -- sets forth that there is good reason to believe that a defendant now under death sentence is insane.

And she proceeded in her petition to set forth factual allegations supporting this conclusion.

The warden had denied -- had refused to call the question of the sanity of the condemned prisoner to the attention of the District Attorney in the manner required by Section 3701 of the Penal Code of California.

Now, before reviewing the facts in the law pertinent to the instant case with the kind indulgence of this Honorable Court, I should like first to direct some preliminary observations to a question asked by Justice Felix Frankfurter, in order that thereby, we may clarify and focus as sharply as possible our attention on the specific issue before the Court at this time.

Justice Frankfurter, if I -- if I recall his question correctly, stated, "Does this record permit me to say I don't now have to decide constitutionality of this statute?"

I respectfully submit at the outset that the petitioner does not now necessarily question the constitutionality of Section 3701 of the Penal Code of California.

Hence, I would say in response to the question of Justice Frankfurter that it is not now necessary for this Court to pass upon the constitutionality of Section 3701 as a statute.

I say it does -- it is -- does not now necessarily have to question the authority or the propriety of having the warden make the determination of the sanity of the condemned prisoner.

The petitioner in this case does not question why did the California Court did summarily deny a petition for writ of habeas corpus where the facts alleged merely show a suggested insanity.

The words used in both the Noble's case and in the case of Solesbee versus Balkcom.

However, the petitioner in this case does insist that the California courts have the power to entertain judicial process when the facts alleged show a clear abuse of authority on the part of the warden.

This power closed from the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

The absolute refusal of the Court to exercise the power results in a denial of due process and because of these observations on the question propounded by Justice Felix Frankfurter, I respectfully submit that the question as suggested on page 1 of the brief by the respondent which reads, "Is the California procedure, which provides no judicial review of a warden's determination of a condemned prisoner sanity constitutional?"

This question in my opinion is not the proper question for this case, and while I set forth two suggested questions in -- in my brief and in the petition of writ of certiorari, I must confess that on further consideration of this case, the questions should be even more pointed and become even more precise -- precise.

And that the basic question here is, "Does the refusal of the California courts to grant a review of the Warden's ex parte determination of the sanity of a prisoner under sentence of execution, constitute a denial of due process when there is good reason to believe that the prisoner is insane."

Felix Frankfurter:

Are you suggesting --

A. J. Zirpoli:

Yes, Your Honor?

Felix Frankfurter:

Are you suggesting Mooney-Holohan?

A. J. Zirpoli:

No, Your Honor, not in the slightest.


Felix Frankfurter:

Well, I don't mean -- I don't mean the perjury part.

Are you suggesting a disposition similar to that of the nature which was made by this Court in Mooney against Holohan, namely a finding that the denial of any opportunity or review would constitute a violation of Due Process Clause, but that this Court is not prepared to say there wouldn't be some relief in the California courts?

Is that what you're suggesting?

A. J. Zirpoli:

No, I might -- I might --

Felix Frankfurter:

Well then, will you please state, just sketch the order that you want this Court to make.

A. J. Zirpoli:

The order that I --

Felix Frankfurter:

In this case.