Loper v. Beto

LOCATION: Cold Storage Warehouse

DOCKET NO.: 70-5388
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 405 US 473 (1972)
ARGUED: Jan 13, 1972
DECIDED: Mar 22, 1972

John T. Cabaniss - for petitioner
Robert Darden - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Loper v. Beto

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 13, 1972 in Loper v. Beto

Warren E. Burger:

Arguments next in Number 70-5388, Loper against Beto.

Mr. Cabaniss you may proceed.

John T. Cabaniss:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case involves the constitutional rights of a criminal defendant in circumstances where he has been affected by a collateral use of prior convictions, presumably void under Gideon.

In this case, the collateral use was impeachment of testimonial credibility.

Loper was convicted in November of 1947 in Harris County Texas of the offense of statutory rape of his eight year old stepdaughter.

At his State Court trial, the prosecution's witness, the only one to identify Loper as the violator was Betty Fay Dorothy and she indicated he was guilty, he did it.

Otis Loper took the stand to testify in his own defense.

He denied complicity, denied guilt of the offense and on cross-examination, the State was allowed by the Court to elicit from him details regarding prior convictions that he had suffered in the States of Mississippi and Tennessee.

There were four prior felony convictions in all and the State brought out the details as to the term of those offenses, where they occurred, that they were all for burglary.

In the District Court the hearing below, evidence was introduced regarding these prior convictions.

This evidence consisted both of the testimony of Loper as for circumstances surrounding those convictions and also consisted of certified records that have been obtained from the Courts in those proceedings which reflected in most instances that the defendant had appeared in the person or he appeared in his own proper person or otherwise silent regarding the presence or absence of counsel.

It is Loper’s contention that the evidence thus introduced, un-contradicted by the State renders those convictions presumably void under the mandate of this Court in Gideon.

William H. Rehnquist:

Mr. Cabaniss, Judge Connelly found as a fact in the District Court that he refused to believe Loper’s testimony that he had not been previously represented?

John T. Cabaniss:

He certainly did Your Honor.

William H. Rehnquist:

In the Fifth Circuit?

John T. Cabaniss:

And he refused to believe anything Mr. Loper said, there is no question about that.

William H. Rehnquist:

So you are asking us to offset that factual determination?

John T. Cabaniss:

I am, Your Honor on this basis.

Other Courts have indicated in similar circumstances that it seems where the defendant, the one who is convicted introduces testimony to the fact that he did not have counsel, was not represented by a counsel and then he introduces evidence to corroborate that testimony, in this case, certified records of the State Court proceeding, we would contend that those records are sufficient to carry his presumption that he in fact was not represented by a counsel and he had not waived his right to counsel.

And that the Trial Court’s action in disregarding that, the fact that the burden then shifted to the State to prove that he had waived counsel, we believe that cannot be upheld, that is out contention.

Potter Stewart:

We have granted certiorari on this case that we give it a limited grant of certiorari?

John T. Cabaniss:

Yes sir.

You did, Your Honor.

There were seven points, in all there were six points I believe, raised in the petition for cert.

This is the only one upon of which the petition was granted.

The --

Potter Stewart:

Right and do you say this is the only one.

What is the -- specifically as to the question on which we granted?

John T. Cabaniss:

The issue presented Your Honor is whether on the facts presented by this record.