McMann v. Richardson

RESPONDENT: Richardson
LOCATION: San Francisco Department of Social Services

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 397 US 759 (1970)
ARGUED: Feb 24, 1970
DECIDED: May 04, 1970

Facts of the case


Media for McMann v. Richardson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 24, 1970 in McMann v. Richardson

Warren E. Burger:

Number 153, McMann against Richardson.

Ms. Soloff, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Brenda Soloff:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The principle issue in these cases is whether or not a guilty plea can be opened up to collateral attack in order to test in evidentiary defense which could have been tested at a trial.

These are three habeas corpus petition cases in which the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ordered evidentiary hearings on the petitions of state prisoners who are detained by virtue of their pleas of guilty.

The District Courts which initially considered these habeas petitions, declined to order such hearing because the primary allegation of each relator that a coerced confession had been obtained from him was not the direct attack on a guilty plea itself.

Biased decisions in these cases, the Second Circuit has held that confessions which weren't introduced against a relator nevertheless can be attacked collaterally.

I will address myself primarily to the nature of a plea of guilty as precluding a subsequent attack on the admissibility of potential evidence.

Mr. Juviler of the Office of District Attorney of New York County will also discuss this issue.

And in addition to claiming that a coerced confession was used against him, each of these relators makes other allegations on which the Second Circuit has also ordered evidentiary hearings and Mr. Juviler will discuss those allegations as well.

These three men were all convicted in New York State of serious crimes following their pleas of guilty.

All three were represented by counsel, all of them pleaded guilty to substantially reduced charges.

Richardson satisfied two first degree murder charges by his plea to one charge of murder in the second degree after a plea to murder on the first degree had been rejected in his behalf.

Dash satisfied indictment charging with robbery in the first degree by pleading guilty to robbery in the second degree after he personally rejected a guilty plea to the higher charge and Williams satisfied an indictment charging robbery and rape for the first degree with his guilty plea to robbery in the second degree.

None of these --

Was the best sentence still on the both?

Brenda Soloff:

Yes, it was at the time of the pleas.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Are the proceedings at the time that the pleas are taken in the record anyway?

Brenda Soloff:

The proceedings in the Richardson case are in the record.

The proceedings in the Dash and Williams cases are not in the record because they were not before the circuit court.

There's some question in the record as to whether or not they were before the District Courts.

It appears to me from reading each District Court opinion in those two cases that they did have those minutes.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Don't you think that on the issue we have to deal with it would be irrelevant to know what happen at the court decision?

Brenda Soloff:

I think that it's more than relevant and I think that this is one of the problems with the Second Circuit decision that they place absolutely no weight on the one colloquy which they did have before them which was a model of inquiry.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

That's the Richardson.

Brenda Soloff:

That's the Richardson.

It was most thorough inquiry in --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Is that in any of these printed papers or is that --

Brenda Soloff:

Yes, that's in the appendix at pages 88 through 97.