Sanders v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Bay County Circuit Court

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 373 US 1 (1963)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1963
DECIDED: Apr 29, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Sanders v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1963 in Sanders v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 202, Charles Edward Sanders, Petitioner, versus United States.

Mr. Vinson.

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The question here presented for decision today involves the extent of the right of a prisoner to be heard on a second or successive motion under Section 2255 of Title 28 of the United States Code.

The facts in the case are simple and undisputed and quite important to determination herein.

On January 19, 1959, the petitioner appeared before the United States District Court for the Northern District of California where he was charged with having taken three days prior thereto, approximately $220 from a federally insured bank.

After explanation by the Court at this hearing, the petitioner waived his right to counsel, waived his right to indictment, consented to proceed by way of information.

The information was then filed and read and the petitioner entered a guilty plea.

Several weeks later, in February of 1959, the petitioner again appeared before the sentencing court.

He was asked before a sentence was pronounced if he had anything to say.

An exchange then ensued between the petitioner and the judge.

The petitioner reported to the judge that he had been a narcotics addict on and off for quite awhile, and he requested that he'd be sent to Springfield or to Lexington for treatment.

The judge accepted his statement and recommended that the petitioner be sent to a medical facility for treatment.

Thereupon, the petitioner was sentenced to a 15-year term and he is now incarcerated in a federal penitentiary in the State of Washington.

Potter Stewart:

He was in Alcatraz for a while, isn't it?

Yes, Mr. Justice.

He was transferred in January, I believe.

Potter Stewart:

And then he -- does the record show that he ever did go to a -- to a place for treatment of his narcotics addiction?

His -- the first place he was incarcerated was McNeil Island in Washington.

I am not certain whether they have medical facilities there or not.

Potter Stewart:

It doesn't show why the recommendation of the sentencing judge wasn't carried out, does it?

No, it does not.

The record does not.

Petitioner, appearing in proper person, filed a 2255 motion in January of 1960, asking that the Court vacate his sentence.

As grounds therefore, he alleged only very broad conclusions and they were largely conclusions of law or they were mixed conclusions of law and fact.

The District Court in California, quite properly I might add a very little attention to this petition, the Court said that defendant's motion, although replete with conclusions, sets forth no facts upon which these conclusions can be founded, and for this reason alone, the Court may deny the motion.

The Court then went on to state that they had inspected the files and records, and these conclusively showed that the petitioner was entitled to no relief and so the motion was denied.

Some seven months later, the petitioner again appearing in proper person filed the 2255 motion which is before this Honorable Court today.

In this intervening seven-month period, the petitioner took to heart what the Court said in its first decision about his failure to allege any basic facts and he very carefully drafted another pro se petition supported by a memorandum and buttressed by an affidavit in which he clearly alleges that he was deprived of substantial constitutional rights and that during the proceedings when he waived his right to counsel and so forth, and when he was sentenced, that he was under the influence of narcotic drugs.

His affidavit very specifically details this ground.