Rogers v. Richmond

LOCATION: Circuit Court of Montgomery County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 365 US 534 (1961)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1960 / Nov 09, 1960
DECIDED: Mar 20, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Rogers v. Richmond

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1960 in Rogers v. Richmond

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1960 in Rogers v. Richmond

Earl Warren:

-- Harold D. Rogers, Petitioner, versus Mark S. Richmond, Warden.

Mr. Pollak, you may continue your arguments.

Louis H. Pollak:

May it please the Court.

When I left this building yesterday evening, after we have just begun this argument, I must confess that for a moment I felt a little disjointed, as if living somewhat of an island.

I was moving back into the mainstream of a nation which was concerned, not with problems of this kind, but with a national election.

And -- and then as I thought about it a little more, I thought, "Well, perhaps that isn't so."

Perhaps, the two hallmarks of a free nation are the exercise of the ballot, freely and secretly, and a fair trial, and of indication of the rights of every man to equal justice before the law for which this Court sits.

And so I returned today thinking that our mission here is perhaps more important than it was than I thought it was even yesterday.

I indicated yesterday that it was my purpose to direct myself to the dominant issue of the scope of the inquiry which the federal judge sitting in habeas corpus is to make when he is faced with an application for the writ and the issue.

The constitutional issues are issues which have been at least inquired into to some extent in the state courts.

And that my colleague, Mr. Zeldes, will address himself to the somewhat separable issue of access to counsel as a constitutional right by itself, perhaps as separate from the coercive character of the incriminating statements submitted against petitioner in the state murder trial.

I am not going to -- of necessity, as I describe the events in this case, I will be describing how the incriminating statements were elicited, but I do want to make it clear that it is not my purpose so much to be arguing that constitutional issues of coercion as to make it plain, how they arose and who considered those issues so that this Court can best be acquainted with what bears on the inquiry, which the habeas corpus court should be making and this I hope will in part be responsive to Justice Frankfurter's very proper inquiry yesterday as to just who said what, to what tribunal, when and what did the State Supreme Court and subsequently, Federal Judge Smith sitting in the District Court have before him.

John M. Harlan II:

Could I ask you a question, Mr. Pollak?

Louis H. Pollak:

Yes, of course.

John M. Harlan II:

Do you conceive that the issue that we have up here simply goes to the question of the scope of the inquiry at this stage?

Louis H. Pollak:

No, Mr. Justice.

I think this case could be disposed of on --

John M. Harlan II:

Reach the merits?

Louis H. Pollak:

I think -- I think it would be entirely appropriate for this Court to reach the merits.

Felix Frankfurter:

But the lower court did -- the lower court did.

Louis H. Pollak:

Yes, the lower court did.

Felix Frankfurter:

We got a judgment here saying that no constitutional right was taken, haven't we?

Louis H. Pollak:

We -- we have such a judgment.

I -- I think it would be --

Felix Frankfurter:

Why it's not open?

Why is there any question where they should be opened?

Louis H. Pollak:

I -- I don't believe there is, Justice Frankfurter.

I think the issue could be reached in several ways.

The issue could be reached on the basis of the record which Judge Smith on the Court of Appeals have held that they are limited to at this phase of the case.

It could be reached on the basis of the record which Judge Smith addressed himself to at the first habeas corpus hearing, or indeed as Judge Clark dealt with the merits in his dissenting opinion below.