Ladner v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 355 US 282 (1958)
ARGUED: Nov 19, 1957
DECIDED: Jan 06, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Ladner v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 19, 1957 in Ladner v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 41, Lovander Ladner, Petitioner, versus United States of America.

Mr. Rosenwald.

Harold Rosenwald:

Mr Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

In this case, there was an indictment in three counts under Section 254 of former Title 18 of the United States Code.

First count charged to the petitioner with conspiring with another person named Cameron to violate Section 254 by means -- by conspiring by means of deadly and dangerous weapons to assault two agents of the Alcohol Tax Unit of the Treasury Department.

The second count alleged that at the same time and place, the petitioner and Cameron actually did assault one such agent named Reed and used -- assaulted him by the use of a deadly and dangerous weapon to wit, a -- a loaded shotgun.

The third count charged a -- a similar assault with loaded shotgun against a second Alcohol Tax Unit agent named Frost.

The second count stated that the federal agent who is the victim of the assault was seriously wounded.

The third count simply alleged that the federal agent there involved was wounded.

The defendant -- the petitioner rather, was arraigned, placed on trial in the District Court in Mississippi and pleaded not guilty.

He was found guilty by the jury on all the three counts.

And on the same day, he was sentenced to two years on the first count to be concurrent with the sentence on the second count for ten years on the second count and the ten years on the third count was sentences under the second and third count to be consecutive or a total of 20 years.

There was no transcript of the evidence at the trial, whatsoever.

There was no appeal taken from the conviction at that time.

There is nothing of evidence in this record before the Court.

There is, that crept into the record someway, an affidavit taken before a credible investigative agents, which I don't know whether it was in evidence in the trial it shouldn't have been and it was rejected by the Court of Appeals as having any value bearing on this case.

In the -- after serving more than ten years, the petitioner filed a motion under Section 2255 of Title 28 to correct this sentence.

This motion was filed on January 22 of 1955.

A -- a motion alleged that the sentences under the -- that the offenses charged in the second and third counts were only a single offense, and therefore the sentences under those two counts should not have been consecutive.

The motion doesn't clearly state but it surely implies, that at the time of the offense, the -- a gun was used but was only fired once.

And apparently it is claimed that the -- this was a shotgun with pellets scattered and the one shot struck the two federal agents.

The motion of the petitioner was denied by District Judge Mize on the grounds, stressed that he had a personal recollection of more than one shoppers-by although the crowd that it occurred more than ten years prior to that time.

It made that there is no transcript taken.

And he said that in any event, each count of the indictment alleged the separate offense meaning the second and third count alleged separate offenses because separate victims of the shot were named.

He also made a statement that the motion had been denied on a prior occasion and cited as his authority to that statement, his own decision overruling such a motion filed by the petitioner's co-defendant and it's quite clear that the petitioner himself had never filed a motion to before it.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard the appeal that was filed by the petitioner.

He proceeded in the form of progress in the Court of Appeals.

And the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the District Judge, rejected the recollection of the District Judge as having any bearing on the question, found no evidence in the record worthy of consideration by the Court that there was more one shot fired and treated the case on the basis that the motion of the petitioner clearly stated that one shot and one shot alone was fired and that that one shot resulted in the wounding of these two federal agents.

And the Court of Appeals held that the one shot striking the two men constituted two offenses under Section 254.

And this Court granted certiorari, and the case is here as we submit on that narrow question whether a single shot of a shotgun which strikes two men can constitute more than one offense under Section 254.