McFarland v. Scott

PETITIONER: McFarland
RESPONDENT: Scott
LOCATION: Pomona Police Department

DOCKET NO.: 93-6497
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1993-1994)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 512 US 849 (1994)
ARGUED: Mar 29, 1994
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1994

ADVOCATES:
Margaret P. Griffey - on behalf of the Respondent
Mandy Welch - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for McFarland v. Scott

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 29, 1994 in McFarland v. Scott

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in Number 93-6497, Frank McFarland v. James A. Collins.

The Court remains in session, don't talk until you get outside.

Ms. Welch.

Mandy Welch:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court:

Frank McFarland asked the district court to appoint him a lawyer and to stay his execution long enough so that that lawyer could do what was proper and necessary to prepare and file Mr. McFarland's first Federal habeas corpus petition.

The respondents took the position--

Antonin Scalia:

When did he ask that, counsel?

Mandy Welch:

--He made the request on October 22nd, Justice Scalia.

Antonin Scalia:

That was how long after the petition for certiorari had been denied from his original conviction?

Mandy Welch:

It was denied June 6th, so it was approximately 4 months, 4-1/2 months.

Antonin Scalia:

Why did it take that long to worry about the counsel problem?

Mandy Welch:

Well, I'm sure that Mr. McFarland worried about the counsel problem the entire period of time, Your Honor.

Antonin Scalia:

Did the Texas Resource Center worry about it?

Mandy Welch:

Yes, sir, we worried a great deal about it.

Antonin Scalia:

And what was it, 5 days before his execution you came in with this motion?

Mandy Welch:

Yes, Your Honor.

We took the position and have taken the position that we should do everything we can in order to get counsel for unrepresented death row inmates in Texas for State court proceedings before we resort to the provisions in Federal court.

Antonin Scalia:

And you didn't see the problem arising until 5 days before the execution, having already gotten one extension of the execution, right?

Mandy Welch:

Your Honor, we did see the problem arising, and we were worried about the problem.

We were worried about the problem with respect to approximately 65 people in Texas'--

Antonin Scalia:

How many lawyers do you have at the Texas Resource Center?

Mandy Welch:

--At this time, Your Honor, we have 18, and there are 376 people on death row.

We are involved in at least 220 cases in which people are... in which those prisoners are seeking relief in any State and Federal court.

Antonin Scalia:

But this was a man who had been scheduled to be executed in mid-September.

You had already gotten one extension, and nonetheless, you wait until 5 days before the extended execution date to come in with a request for counsel.

Mandy Welch:

No, Your Honor, we did not wait until 5 days before.

We did not intend to wait until 5 days before the execution date.

At that point, there was a request pending in State court and we were expecting and hoping the State court would grant an extension, or would grant a modification, and that going to Federal court would be necessary.

It was not something we wanted to happen, Your Honor.

Antonin Scalia:

It was not.