United States v. Tateo

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Alabama State Capitol

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 377 US 463 (1964)
ARGUED: Apr 20, 1964
DECIDED: Jun 08, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Tateo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 20, 1964 (Part 2) in United States v. Tateo

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 20, 1964 (Part 1) in United States v. Tateo

Earl Warren:

United States, Appellant, versus Rocco Tateo.

Miss Rosenberg.

Beatrice Rosenberg:

May it please the Court.

This is an appeal by the United States under the Criminal Appeals Act from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, dismissing an indictment for bank robbery on the ground that a trial of defendant there under would subject him to double jeopardy.

This is how the question arose.

In May 1956, the defendant Tateo was on trial under a five-count indictment arising out of the robbery of a bank in Port Chester, New York.

One of the counts, count three, charged kidnapping in course of the robbery, an offense which carried life imprisonment and could even have carried death except that the government disclaimed an intention as to that penalty.

After four days of trial in which the codefendant testified and implicated the defendant, he came in on a Monday morning and with counsel present said he had decided to plea guilty.

Now, those proceedings are in the record at pages 69, and on the surface they seem perfectly proper, defendant said he was acting voluntarily, he was represented by counsel, and he even went so far as to consent to a search having disclosed where the money, part of the money from the robbery was hidden.

However, some years later, the defendant attacked his plea of guilty by a motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255.

I should say that after the plea was accepted, the kidnapping count was dismissed on motion of the defendant with consent of the defendant -- with the consent of the government and the defendant was vented on only four counts, the counts other than the kidnapping charge, he was given twenty two and a half years.

Now that was the sentence which he attacked some years later and his motion under 2255 came before Judge Weinfeld for hearing in 1963.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Weinfeld came to the conclusion that the plea of guilty was indeed coerced and the reasons for his opinion appear in the record, a gist of it is on page 40A.

What had happened was that after these four days of trial, the Judge in the lobby room in the presence of the attorneys for the defense had said, I think I ought to tell you this, “if you finish the trial and your clients are found guilty I am going to start off by imposing the life sentence on the kidnapping charge and then I am going to add consecutive maximum sentences on the other counts on which they are found guilty.

Judge Weinfeld found that this has a coercive effect, particularly coercive in a sense because the government's case was very strong and the case was going very badly from the defendant's point of view.

Who was the sentencing judge?

Beatrice Rosenberg:

Judge Newman.

The government did not appeal in that decision and the government has no quarrel with that decision of Judge Weinfeld.

What the government did was say okay, we'll start all over again.

And so they moved not only for a retrial on the counts to which the defendant had pleaded guilty, hey had a new indictment returned reinstating count three, the dismissed kidnapping count.

It was to that count that the defendant originally made a motion to have it dismissed on the grounds that a trail they are under would constitute double jeopardy.

And it was at the suggestion of the district Judge, Judge Tyler that the motion was broadened to include both a motion to dismiss the kidnapping count and a motion to dismiss the four counts on which the defendant had pleaded guilty, to which he had pleaded guilty and on which he had received a sentence of twenty two-and-a-half years concurrent.

After considerable argument Judge Tower did dismiss both indictments.

The new kidnapping indictment and the four -- the indictment with the four counts to which the defendant had pleaded guilty.

It was his view that the action of the trial judge, which coerced the guilty plea kept the case from going to the jury, and therefore, under the mistrial cases, including this Court's recent decision last year in Downum he thought retrial was broad.

Now, the government is here appealing only from so much of the decision as dismissed the indictment to which the defendant pleaded guilty and on which he was sentenced.

It is not appealing from the dismissal of the kidnapping indictment and the reason --

Byron R. White:


Beatrice Rosenberg:

For the selective appeal?

The reason for selective appeal Mr. Justice is what we regard as the key to this case, and that is that on the counts to which defendant pleaded guilty, there was a judgment.