Fallen v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 378 US 139 (1964)
ARGUED: Apr 30, 1964
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Fallen v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 30, 1964 in Fallen v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 210, Floyd Charles Fallen, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Groner.

Isaac N. Groner:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The issue in this case which is here on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is the validity under the Constitution under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures, of the action of the Fifth Circuit in granting the motion of the government to dismiss the appeal on the ground that no notice of appeal had been received by the District Court within 10 days after petitioner's sentencing.

Petitioner was convicted on three counts arising out of a post office robbery, upon a trial in which he was represented by court appointed counsel.

On January 15, 1962, petitioner was sentenced to consecutive terms aggregating 20 years.

The court appointed counsel was physically present at the sentencing.

The record of the sentencing shows that petitioner himself asked the Court “May I appeal this case as an insolvent?”

The District Court replied, “Oh yes, you always have a right to appeal.

The government provides for that.” Thereupon the sentencing proceeding was terminated.

After the sentencing, petitioner and his court appointed counsel had a talk.

The record before this Court contains letters from both the counsel and the petitioner relating to this conversation.

The counsel's letter contains the following.

At that time I told Mr. Fallen that the firm with which I am associated, did not wish me to undertake any further criminal matters either by appeal or otherwise and therefore I suggested that Mr. Fallen secure another attorney without delay so as not to forfeit his right of appeal.

Counsel then departed out of the case so far as he was concerned at that time.


Isaac N. Groner:

He did not notify the Court Your Honor that he was withdrawing so far as this record was concerned.

In fact Your Honor he was reappointed under the circumstances, I'll come to shortly, which indicates very clearly that the court recognized the propriety, evidently under the terms of its original appointment of his disassociating himself from petitioner at this point.

There is no indication that there was any other communication with the District Court after this conversation by the counsel until he was reappointed.

On January 29, the fourteenth day subsequent to petitioner's sentencing, the District Court received two letters, each dated January 23, written by petitioner, the one constituting a motion for a new trial and the other a notice of appeal.

These then were the first papers received by the District Court subsequent to the sentencing, so that prior to January 29 and between January 15 and January 29, there was no communication with the District Court by the petitioner or by his court appointed counsel.

Petitioner had been incarcerated during the trial in Jacksonville, Florida where the trial took place.

The day following his sentencing, he was removed to the hospital at the Federal penitentiary in Atlanta and it was from the Federal penitentiary that the letters were transmitted to the District Court.

On January 30, the day after the letters were received, pursuant to a request from the District Court, the court appointed counsel sent a letter to the court, summarizing the facts to which I have already referred.

On February 1 --

Earl Warren:

You mean that fact that he could no longer --

Isaac N. Groner:

Yes, yes Your Honor.

The fact that he had told petitioner that he and petitioner had had a conversation subsequent to the sentencing, that he had told petitioner that his firm did not permit him or would not permit him to undertake any further criminal matters and that petitioner ought to do something else about getting another attorney.

On February 1, the District Court filed an order which expressly reappointed this court appointed counsel as counsel for the limited purpose of presenting the question whether petitioner's motion for a new trial was timely filed, and if so whether it should be granted.

The District Court found, in this order, that while appeal was discussed on January 15 with Mr. Fallen, the provisions of the rules with respect to new trial were not discussed with him, nor the requirements of law with respect to appeal in forma pauperis.