Cuyler v. Sullivan

LOCATION: E.L. Aaron & Co., Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 78-1832
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 446 US 335 (1980)
ARGUED: Feb 20, 1980
DECIDED: May 12, 1980

Marilyn J. Gelb - on behalf of the respondent
Steven H. Goldblatt - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Cuyler v. Sullivan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 20, 1980 in Cuyler v. Sullivan

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Cuyler against Sullivan.

Mr. Goldblatt, we'll just wait until the room clears.

I think you may proceed whenever you're ready, Mr. Goldblatt.

Steven H. Goldblatt:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and does involve Federal review of a State conviction pursuant to writ of habeas corpus.

The prosecution is here, and has sought review, of the decision of the Third Circuit, reversing the decisions of the Federal District Court and the Pennsylvania State courts.

The Third Circuit granted the writ of habeas corpus on the basis that the defendant's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated by virtue of the fact that he'd been denied the right to effective assistance of counsel.T

he case -- the primary issue in the case involves the issue of conflict of interest, and whether there was an adequate showing of conflict of interest here to warrant the granting of Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment relief.

Warren E. Burger:

When was this case tried?

Steven H. Goldblatt:


Warren E. Burger:


Steven H. Goldblatt:

The crime -- excuse me -- the crime occurred in June of 1966.

The crime was tried in June of 1967.

So it is almost 13 years old at this time, since the time of trial.

The crime itself was an execution-style killing of two people inside a local Teamsters' union hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June of 1966.

Three defendants were indicted for the crime in, I believe, December of 1966, after a coroner's inquest.

The three defendants privately retained two lawyers to represent.

As these were first degree murder cases, they were tried separately.

The Commonwealth moved for trial on respondent's case first.

He was convicted of two counts of first degree murder.

The two other defendants were subsequently tried separately and acquitted.

On the first direct appeal to the Pennsylvania --

Potter Stewart:

Each one of them was tried separately?

Steven H. Goldblatt:

Tried separately and acquitted, yes.

This was the only defendant who was convicted.

Potter Stewart:

There were two subsequent trials?

Steven H. Goldblatt:

Yes, there were.

In any event, there were two lawyers who represented the three defendants.

They were privately retained by the three defendants.

There is some confusion in the record as to how they were paid, but there is no question but that they were not appointed by the court.