Saturday, November 2, 2013

Douglas v. California case brief

Douglas v. California case brief summary
372 U.S. 353 (1963)

Defendants, who were convicted of 13 felonies, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari from the District Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate Division, after the state supreme court denied their petitions for discretionary review without a hearing.


  • A public defender was appointed to represent both defendants. 
  • Defendants were jointly tried on an information charging them with 13 felonies, which included robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault with intent to commit murder. 
  • The attorney's motion for continuance at the beginning of trial was denied, although he stated that he was not as prepared as he should have been. 
  • Defendants then dismissed him and requested separate counsel and a continuance, which was denied. They were convicted and sentenced to prison. 
  • The state appellate court affirmed their convictions, and the state supreme court denied their petitions for discretionary review. 
  • On certiorari, the Court held that a procedure like the one used by the state appellate court in which an indigent defendant was denied counsel on appeal unless he first made a preliminary showing of merit did not comport with fair procedure. 
  • In vacating, the judgment of the state appellate court, the Court stated that where the merits of the one and only appeal an indigent had as of right were decided without benefit of counsel, an unconstitutional line had been drawn between rich and poor.


The Court vacated the judgment of the state appellate court and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Court's opinion.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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