United States v. MacCollom

PETITIONER:United States
LOCATION:Vermillion Police Station

DOCKET NO.: 74-1487
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 426 US 317 (1976)
ARGUED: Mar 29, 1976
DECIDED: Jun 10, 1976

Frank H. Easterbrook – pro hac vice, by special leave of Court for petitioner
John Strait – for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. MacCollom

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – March 29, 1976 in United States v. MacCollom

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 10, 1976 in United States v. MacCollom

Warren E. Burger:

The disposition in 74-1487 United States against MacCollom will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

In this case there is not an opinion for the court.

I have filed an opinion in which the Chief Justice Mr. Justice Steward and Mr. Justice Powell joined.

Mr. Justice Blackmun has filed an opinion in the judgment.

The case arose out of the fact that respondent MacCollom was convicted in Federal court of uttering forged currency and he was sentenced to ten years in prison under 1970.

He didn’t appeal at judgment of conviction, therefore didn’t obtain the free transcript of the trial to which all indigent attendants are entitled when they do appeal.

He then filed a motion pursuant to Section 2255 of title 28 in which he sought to set aside his conviction on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel and insufficient evidence to support the conviction.

He moved for a free transcript in connection with this motion stating that he could not effectively frame his arguments without it.

He didn’t elaborate on why these particular claims required a transcript.

The District Court appointed counsel held a hearing, but refused to supply respondent with a few transcript and ultimately dismissed or denied his motion.

Respondent then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and that court reversed.

We granted certiorari and we now reverse the Court of Appeals.

Congress has expressly addressed the question of furnishing transcripts at public expense in 28 U.S.C Section 753(f) and it provides in substance that on direct appeal an indigent defendant gets a transcript automatically, but when a collateral proceeding after the opportunity for direct appeal is passed, the defendant gets a transcript if the trail judge certifies that the suit or appeals is not frivolous and the transcript is needed to decide the issue presented.

Here the District Court resolved those issues against respondent.

While it is undoubtedly true that these restrictions place respondent in a less advantageous position than a person of means, we reject his claim that it violates his equal protection rights under the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendment.

To do so respondent has received an adequate opportunity to present his claim fairly and this is all that was required.

We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion in which he is joined by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion in which he is joined by Mr. Justice Brenna, Mr. Justice White and Mr. Justice Marshall.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Rehnquist.