Rodriquez v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Souther District Court of Georgia

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

CITATION: 395 US 327 (1969)
ARGUED: Mar 26, 1969
DECIDED: Jun 02, 1969

Facts of the case


Media for Rodriquez v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 26, 1969 in Rodriquez v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 749, Adolpho Rodriquez, petitioner, versus The United States.

Mr. Wallace.

William Ross Wallace:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is a case that comes up on a petition under Section 2255, a federal prisoner who claims that he was in improperly denied his right of appeal.

His petition alleges that he is a Mexican descent and did not speak the language well.

The trial was conducted through an interpreter at the conclusion of the trial and at the time -- after the time of sentence, the prisoner alleged that he requested the interpreter to ask the court and to ask his counsel to arrange for his appeal.

He also alleges that his counsel agreed to do so and that an oral notice of appeal if there is such a thing was given but no written notice conferring to the statute was filed.

The prisoner originally and within six or seven weeks at the time of the sentence filed what I suppose you would call an application for a late appeal.

That was denied by Judge MacBride, the District Judge in Sacramento, and by the Circuit Court of the Ninth Circuit.

Upon the grounds that under the rule of the Ninth Circuit, an application for a right of appeal late where a prisoner claimed that he had been not -- been denied that right of appeal must also show some basis for the appeal.

In other words, it must show not only that he was deprived of that constitutional right but he must show that he have something upon which some reasonable basis upon which to appeal.

The -- those proceedings were in 1963.

In 1966, the prisoner then filed an application under Section 2255 and that application was very much more detailed than the previous ones.

So, he had apparently risen in the hierarchy of the jail and there had been there long enough to learn little more English and it was a -- that was a better job than the first one.

There again and without hearing, without reference to the transcript, without reference to his counsel and without reference to the United States Attorney, Judge MacBride denied that application.

And there again, he was -- he then filed his motion to have the appeal heard in forma pauperis in the Court of Appeals and -- for the Ninth Circuit.

The Court again without hearing denied that motion.

Again on the basis of the rule in the Ninth Circuit that in addition to showing the deprivation of the right to appeal, a prisoner must show something more.

At least must show the basis of an appeal.

The cases in California in our circuit are not wholly clear whether he has to show conclusively or whether he has -- they talked in -- the judge here talked about rights constitutional or otherwise.

But in any event, it is clear that there are circuits differing from most of the circuits.

A prisoner claiming his deprivation of his right to appeal must show that he, if granted that right, has at least a reasonable basis upon appeal.

Now, in the application for the -- there are the motion or application for the writ of certiorari.

The prisoner set forth these facts, the Solicitor General in his opposition felt that a prisoner should at least show something that would indicate some basis for an appeal.

In our opening brief, I pointed out that here was a prisoner of Mexican descent having very little knowledge of the language.

He was tried with five -- four or five other people.

At least two or three of whom had separate counsel.

The whole proceeding was conducted through an interpreter and how in the heaven's name, a person under those circumstances would be able to recognize and remember what errors occurred at the trial that might give him some basis for an appeal seemed to me an impossibility.

I think in the Solicitor's brief, they have in effect waived that point.

They seem not to rely any further upon the -- on the basis that something should be done that the prisoner must do -- to show something beside the actual deprivation of his right of appeal.