Draper v. Washington

RESPONDENT: Washington
LOCATION: Bay County Circuit Court

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 372 US 487 (1963)
ARGUED: Jan 16, 1963
DECIDED: Mar 18, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Draper v. Washington

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1963 in Draper v. Washington

Earl Warren:

Number 201, Robert Draper and Raymond Lorentzen, Petitioners, versus Washington, et al., Mr. Luce.

Charles F. Luce:

Mr. Chief Justice, members of the Court.

This case is here on certiorari to the Supreme Court of Washington reviewing a judgment which in effect denied the petitioners, Mr. Draper and Mr. Lorentzen, a right of appeal because they lack the funds to purchase a transcript at the trial of proceeding.

Petitioners are presently incarcerated in the penitentiary at Walla Walla, Washington under maximum sentences which totaled 40 years.

They are admittedly without funds.

The issue in this case as petitioners see it is whether consistent with equal protection of law and due process of law, the State of Washington may deny the right to appeal to indigents but not to others.

Whenever the trial court finds that the asserted grounds of appeal are frivolous involved in a determination of this case or the rules of the Supreme Court of Washington -- the counsel, the preceding counsel taken part of my record away here --

Earl Warren:

Well, would you --

Charles F. Luce:

-- in fact, they've taken the whole thing.

Earl Warren:

Well, would the marshal -- where are the marshals?

Officer, would you go out and ask the lawyer to --

Charles F. Luce:

You have the record early as well --

Earl Warren:


Charles F. Luce:

I assume there was no complicity on part of the State on what happened.

The general principles which apply to this case are, I think quite clear, they'd been laid down in two cases to this Court.

First of all, Griffin against Illinois, decided in 1956, wherein the Court said or at least the opinion of the majority of the judges -- thank you -- that destitute defendants must be afforded as adequate and appellate review as defendants who have money enough to buy transcripts.

And secondly, the principle laid down in a subsequent case out of the same state, State of Washington.

The fact that the conclusion of the trial judge that there was no reversible error cannot be a substitute for the right to full appellate review, and I emphasize that, full appellate review, available to all defendants who can afford the expense of transcript.

In the Eskridge case, the trial judge upon being requested by the indigent defendant who was convicted I think in that case of a murder had given life sentence in prison, the trial judge upon passing on the request of that particular defendant for free transcript ruled that there was no substantial ground for the appeal and that justice would not be promoted by granting transcript, hence, it was not granted.

This Court when the case finally got back up here many years later held that that determination by the trial court was not an adequate substitute for the full appellate review that a defendant with funds could obtain under the rules of the State of Washington and that in effect and I might add, now in effect.

Let's take a look at the facts of this particular case, involving Mr. Draper and Mr. Lorentzen as applied to the principles laid down in the Griffin case and in the Eskridge case.

The State of Washington still, as I mentioned gives a full right of review to those who can pay for it.

If you have the necessary funds to purchase a transcript, you may do so, and all that you have to do then is to have that transcript certified by the trial judge, file a brief with the Supreme Court of the State of Washington and you are given a full scale review.

You do not have, at any stage, to convince the trial judge of the merits of your appeal.

Indeed under our procedure in the State of Washington, the trial judge never gets an opportunity in the criminal case to state what he thinks of the merits of the appeal, a matter never comes before him and there's no procedure by which he can indicate his opinion to the Supreme Court.

Now in this particular case, the defendants having been convicted on two counts of robbery after a jury trial appeal.

At the trial being without funds, they've been represented by Court appointed counsel, the same Court appointed counsel represented them upon the -- their request for a free transcript in order that they might appeal.

Now, in considering the procedures followed in this case, the Court should have in mind the rules laid down by the State of Washington following the Eskridge case wherein the -- this Court held that the procedures previously followed by the State of Washington did not meet the constitutional test of due process.

Following the Eskridge case, our Court laid down rules which I have set forth in full on our brief at pages 3 and 4.

In order to get the facts of this particular case straight, I would like to read these rules and then refer to the record to show wherein and how they were complied with in this case.