Hodges v. United States

PETITIONER: John E. Hodges
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: United States District Court for the District of Columbia

DOCKET NO.: 58
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 368 US 139 (1961)
ARGUED: Nov 13, 1961
DECIDED: Dec 04, 1961
GRANTED: Feb 20, 1961

ADVOCATES:
Beatrice Rosenberg - for the respondent
Quinn O'connell - for the petitioner

Facts of the case

On April 30, 1956, the Chicago Police Department arrested John E. Hodges on charges of armed robbery. On May 2, 1956, two members of the District of Columbia Police Department traveled to Chicago and interrogated Hodges for about an hour before producing a written statement. Hodges was returned to Washington, D.C., indicted, and pled guilty. Hodges later withdrew his plea and entered a plea of not guilty. On April 15, 1957, Hodges went to trial and was found guilty. He did not appeal.

Three months later, Hodges filed a motion in district court to vacate his sentence, arguing that his confession was coerced and should not have been admitted into evidence at trial. The motion was denied without a hearing. Hodges appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed.

Question

Should the district court have given Hodges a hearing on his motion to vacate after his period to appeal expired?

Media for Hodges v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1961 (Part 2) in Hodges v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1961 (Part 1) in Hodges v. United States

Earl Warren:

John E. Hodges, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. O'Connell.

Quinn O'connell:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is before the Court on a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals from the District of Columbia Circuit.

It poses the question of whether a person who has been convicted in a federal court and who has failed to file a timely appeal because he neither knew nor was advised of his appellate rights may nevertheless be granted a hearing under Title 28, Section 2255 to determine whether his conviction was invalidly based upon a coerced confession in violation of his constitutional rights.

The pertinent facts, as we see them, are these.

The petitioner --

Felix Frankfurter:

Is that the sole question?

Quinn O'connell:

Pardon.

Felix Frankfurter:

Is that the sole question?

Is that the sole --

Quinn O'connell:

That is the question that we feel is presented in the case, Your Honor.

The Government has interposed certain other questions, but they have met this particular question.

This was the question that was decided by the Court of Appeals, and this was the question which was presented in the petition for certiorari which was granted.

Felix Frankfurter:

Government hasn't denied that this question is raised, does it?

Quinn O'connell:

No, they do not.

Felix Frankfurter:

But raise some other questions?

Quinn O'connell:

That's right, Your Honor.

The petitioner John Hodges was tried and convicted of robbery on the basis of the confession which was admitted into evidence over his objection that it was coerced and involuntary.

No appeal was taken from this conviction.

About three months after the time for appeal had expired, the petitioner filed a motion to vacate the sentence under Section 2255 on the ground that the conviction was based upon a coerced confession in violation of his constitutional rights.

The District Court denied the petition.

An appeal was taken from this denial of the District Court.

In the course of this appeal, it was discovered that the reporter's notes for the Section 2255 hearing had been lost.

As a result, the Court ordered the preparation and filing of the trial transcript as a supplemental record on appeal.

John M. Harlan II:

(Inaudible)

Potter Stewart:

Had there been witnesses -- excuse me.

Quinn O'connell:

Pardon me.

John M. Harlan II:

Do you happen to know whether the hearing before the District Court was an evidentiary hearing or (Inaudible)?

Quinn O'connell:

I -- I do not know because there was no transcript.