Massachusetts v. Painten

PETITIONER: Massachusetts
LOCATION: Telephone Booth

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 389 US 560 (1968)
ARGUED: Oct 18, 1967
DECIDED: Jan 15, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for Massachusetts v. Painten

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 18, 1967 in Massachusetts v. Painten

Earl Warren:

Number 37, Massachusetts, Petitioner, versus Donald M. Painten.

Attorney General Richardson.

Elliot L. Richardson:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case comes to you on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit which affirmed an order of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, allowing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by Donald M. Painten, the respondent in this Court.

The respondent had been convicted in Massachusetts for armed robbery and other related charges.

The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth affirmed that a writ of error was subsequently denied.

The United States District Court vacated the judgment of conviction and gave the Commonwealth the option either of bringing a new trial or discharging the respondent.

The issue in this Court is essentially that of the reasonableness of police conduct held by the federal courts to be in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Since the facts and the constitutional issues thereby presented are inseparably interwoven and I shall be obliged to state the facts in considerable detail.

And at this point, may it please the Court, it is important to have in view that the statement of the facts that I shall be giving you is based in its entirety on the findings of the District Court which begin on page 50 of the record.

There are certain discrepancies in the fact as they appear in those findings, as they appear in the testimony before the District Court in the evidentiary hearing and as they appear in the opinion of the Court of Appeals.

These discrepancies are accounted for by the fact that the District Court and only the District Court had available to it, the full transcript of proceedings in the state court.

Proceeding then with the facts; on Saturday evening, March 1, 1958, Emmett McNamara and Herbert Maxwell, two plain clothes officers of the Boston Police Department were on patrol --

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Attorney General, I'm sorry to interrupt you and take you back one moment.

Now why did the District Court alone have available to the transcript of the Massachusetts proceeding? That --

Elliot L. Richardson:

Well, it was a very (Voice Overlap) --

Potter Stewart:

--is part of the record with the Court of Appeals?

Elliot L. Richardson:

To the best of my knowledge Mr. Justice Stewart, it was not available at the Court of Appeals --

Potter Stewart:

It is not here?

Elliot L. Richardson:

-- it is very lengthy and it is not here in this Court.

So that we are only -- awareness of what it contained.

It appears in the findings of the District Court which insofar as they vary from the testimony in the evidentiary hearing before the District Court can only be accounted for by the fact that the District Court compared both and selected a version which it believed to be the correct one and which we now before you are relying upon.

Potter Stewart:

Well, that's one way to account for and another way to account for would be that the District Court is -- was wrong and --

Elliot L. Richardson:

The District Court --

Potter Stewart:

And how can we know without having a (Voice Overlap) --

Elliot L. Richardson:

The District Court explicitly states at the beginning of that portion of its opinion that it did so rely on page 50 of the record, on the basis of the state court record and the evidentiary type of hearing held in this court I find and then follows the statement of facts which I'm about to summarize.

Earl Warren:

Is there a dispute as to the accuracy of those facts?

Elliot L. Richardson:

To my knowledge Mr. Chief Justice, no actual dispute and yet in certain respects, the counsel for the respondent and for the Commonwealth select slightly different versions which can be found at these various points, so that I would simply mean and make it clear that --

Earl Warren:

-- could bring you to a different it falls?

Elliot L. Richardson:

Well, of course we represent a petitioner and a respondent in a situation in which the facts and the constitutional issues are so much inseparable that slight shadings of difference in the facts could make a difference in the result.