Rinaldi v. Yeager

LOCATION: Congress

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 384 US 305 (1966)
ARGUED: Apr 21, 1966
DECIDED: May 31, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Rinaldi v. Yeager

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 21, 1966 in Rinaldi v. Yeager

Earl Warren:

Number 940, Joseph A. Rinaldi, Appellant, versus Howard Yeager, Warden, et al.

Mr. Lacey.

Frederick B. Lacey:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Joseph Rinaldi, the appellant in this proceeding is presently confined in the New Jersey State Prison.

He is there following conviction and following admittedly and frankly an exhaustion of not only the trial process but the appellate process afforded him by the State of New Jersey.

To that extent, and I want to make this clear at the outset, we are not within the precise holding of Griffin and the cases which follow.

In other words, we are not here contending that because of this financial obligation which I will point out later, he was asked to assume, he was impeded in having either due process with respect to his freedom at the trial level or due process with respect to his freedom at the appellate level.

The position that I take here, however, is I believe a logical extension of what this Court has held in Griffin and the other cases which are cited in our brief such as Eskridge, Draper, Burns, etcetera.

Specifically, Rinaldi following conviction at trial applied under New Jersey procedures to be permitted to proceed in forma pauperis to appeal in the Appellate Division of the state court.

This procedure was pursued by him and he was permitted to so proceed in forma pauperis.2 (a) 152 Section 17 permitted this procedure and he availed himself of it.

Our quarrel is not with 17 however but with the next section which is Section 18.

18 we say, provided a means whereby New Jersey was permitted to utilize this carrot so to speak of appellate procedure to coerce Rinaldi into making an assignment of all of his institutional wages should he, following this gamble of whether to appeal or not, take the appeal and lose because Section 18 provides that if the applicant for proceeding in forma pauperis should have his conviction affirmed on appeal, then the cost of the trial transcript must be taken from all of his institutional wages until it is paid.

We say that this constituted unlike Griffin which was of course a due process taking of liberty, but this constituted without due process, a taking of property.

I think that in the overall in terms of the public interest and quite aside from a narrow question of Joseph Rinaldi, it flies in the face of what I believe was a clearly articulated philosophy of this Court that we don't want to do anything that will interfere with the thinking process as to whether or not an appeal should be taken.

The history of the statute, that is the legislative history, is devoid of any assistance and there's nothing in the record to indicate what it was.

However, the statute itself was a specific answer to this Court's holding in the Griffin case.

The Attorney General forthrightly concedes that one of the policy reasons behind the statute was to discourage frivolous appeals.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

When was – did it happen?

Frederick B. Lacey:

1958 sir.

Griffin, I believe, was 1956, yes sir.

And the Attorney General thus concede that one of the policy reasons for it Mr. Justice Brennan is to discourage non-meritorious appeals -- or frivolous appeals or non-meritorious appeals.

Is there any indications (Inaudible)

Frederick B. Lacey:

As I indicated sir, there is nothing in the record and I can state outside the record that we did search Florida legislative history and found none.

Earl Warren:

Did you say the state concedes that that was the reason for it?

Frederick B. Lacey:

The state says that that is one of the reasons for it.

Earl Warren:

One of the reasons, yes.

Frederick B. Lacey:

Yes sir.

Certainly sir, it could not be -- I'd hate to put my native state in the position of exacting a tribute of $20 -- 20 cents a day, a dollar a week to repay the cost of a $215 transcript on an economic basis.

And so I think that in the large public policy area in which this case falls, it clearly has the – an intended effect to discourage exercising the right to take an appeal granted by the New Jersey constitution.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

I thought that --