Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

UNITED STATES EX REL. DANIELS v. JOHNSTON

June 7, 1971

UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Anthony T. DANIELS, Petitioner,
v.
Dr. W.C. JOHNSTON, Superintendent of Matteawan State Hospital, Beacon, New York, Respondent


Wyatt, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WYATT

WYATT, District Judge.

This is an application for the writ of habeas corpus by Anthony T. Daniels, Jr., acting for himself and without counsel. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241, 2254. Daniels is being held at Matteawan State Hospital in Beacon, Dutchess County, New York, pursuant to an order of commitment of the Supreme Court of New York (Riccobono, J.) made on October 7, 1969 under the New York Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 662-b. As will be seen, the commitment was because the court was of the opinion that Daniels was in a state of "idiocy, imbecility, or insanity" and in accordance with the cited Section 662-b the commitment was "to the custody of the Commissioner of Mental Hygiene to be placed in an appropriate state institution of the Department of Mental Hygiene or of the Department of Correction as may be designated * * * by agreement between the heads of the two departments * * *". While there is no written evidence thereof, presumably "the heads of the two departments [Mental Hygiene and Correction]" have agreed on the designation of Matteawan as "an appropriate state institution" for Daniels. Daniels was authorized to proceed in this Court in forma pauperis by order of Chief Judge Sugarman filed November 10, 1970, and the petition was filed on that day by the Clerk. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)

 Relief must be granted to Daniels on this application. The nature of the relief will be hereafter described.

 The petition avers that Daniels was arrested on December 27, 1962, in Manhattan; that he was indicted by a Grand Jury for New York County on January 8, 1963 (indictment No. 43/1963) for murder in the first degree and assault in the second degree; that he was found to be insane and on May 3, 1963 ordered committed to Matteawan State Hospital (N.Y. Code Crim. Proc. § 662-b) by Mr. Justice Schweitzer of the Supreme Court for New York County; that he was transferred to Matteawan State Hospital on May 7, 1963; that he was certified sane on April 10, 1969, and transferred to Bellevue Hospital; that he was there found to be insane on October 7, 1969, and on October 20, 1969 was transferred back to Matteawan State Hospital, where he is presently confined.

 Daniels claims that he was "falsely arrested"; that he was not at the scene of either crime charged in the indictment; that he was not allowed to appear before the grand jury which indicted him; that he has never "had a hearing on the original Indictment"; that he "has been denied a speedy trial, Due Process of Law, violations of his Civil and Constitutional Rights" (so in the original); that his confinement in Matteawan State Hospital for the last eight years constitutes cruel and unusual punishment; that he has made numerous applications in the state and federal courts, which courts he names, and that he has exhausted his state remedies.

 I.

 Prior proceedings

 It appeared from the papers submitted on this application that extensive proceedings had occurred in connection with Daniels in the Supreme Court for New York and Dutchess Counties. The files from the Dutchess County Supreme Court (Nos. 1966/771 and 1970/293L) were sent here by the Clerk of that Court at my request. The files from the Appellate Division, First Department, and from the Supreme Court for New York County were obtained from the Clerks of those Courts by Assistant Attorney General Dorsey at my request.

 A. New York County Supreme Court

 A paper entitled "Prisoner's Criminal Record -- Police Department City of New York -- Bureau of Criminal Identification" indicates that Daniels was arrested in Manhattan on December 27, 1962 on a charge of homicide.

 What transpired between December 27, 1962 and January 8, 1963 does not appear; Daniels indicates in some of his state court applications that he was arraigned on December 28, 1962 in "Felony Court" and transferred to the prison on Rikers Island.

 On January 8, 1963, an indictment (No. 43/1963) in two counts was filed in the Supreme Court for New York County, in which Daniels was charged with the first degree murder of Estelle Brooks and with second degree assault on Dorothy Eddings; both crimes are charged to have been committed with a knife on December 27, 1962. A bench warrant was issued for Daniels' arrest on January 8, 1963. Daniels apparently appeared in the Supreme Court on that day because the court records for January 8 show that he was committed from the Supreme Court to City Prison (now called the Manhattan House of Detention for Men).

 On January 9, 1963, Daniels swore to an affidavit attesting to his poverty and requesting the assignment of counsel.

 On January 10, 1963, an order of Mr. Justice Marks was filed assigning Bennett I. Schlessel and George J. Todaro, Esqs., as counsel for Daniels.

 On January 30, 1963, an order of Mr. Justice Marks was filed directing Daniels' commitment to Bellevue Hospital for a period of sixty days for a mental examination to determine his sanity.

 An order of Mr. Justice Schweitzer, filed April 25, 1963, appears to have granted an application of Daniels' counsel that he be examined by a psychiatrist, the examination to take place the next day, April 26; the order recites that a report had already been made by the Director of Bellevue Hospital stating that Daniels was "* * * in such a state of idiocy, imbecility or insanity that he is incapable of understanding the charge, indictment or proceedings or of making his defense * * *".

 On the same day, April 25, 1963, Mr. Justice Schweitzer filed an order denying a motion made by Daniels himself in writing to dismiss the indictment.

 On May 2, 1963, an order was filed by Mr. Justice Schweitzer which confirmed a report of two doctors at Bellevue, not a part of the record, that Daniels was then "* * * in such a state of idiocy, imbecility or insanity so as to be incapable of understanding the proceedings or making his defense * * *" at trial of the indictment. There is also an order of Mr. Justice Schweitzer of the same date which recites:

 
"On motion of the District Attorney and on consent of counsel, the report of designated psychiatrists finding defendant insane is confirmed and approved.
 
"ORDERED that the proceedings herein be suspended and defendant committed and forthwith conveyed to the Matteawan State Hospital at Beacon, New York, until no longer insane, and that upon restoration of sanity he be returned to the City Prison, Borough of Manhattan, for resumption of proceedings."

 Finally, on May 2, also, Mr. Justice Schweitzer declared "academic" in view of his order of commitment a motion made by Daniels himself for appointment of a "qualified psychiatrist at public expense".

 An order of Mr. Justice Schweitzer of May 9, 1963 directed payment of $2,000 to Daniels' two assigned attorneys. An affidavit of counsel annexed to the order states that "the defendant having been committed for psychiatric observation to Bellevue Hospital, thereafter, counsels [so in original] attended a hearing inquiring as to the sanity of the defendant aforesaid * * *." What this hearing was, or when, or before whom, is not stated; it appears to have taken place at Bellevue Hospital.

 In August, 1963, Daniels sent a handwritten paper from Matteawan to the Supreme Court for New York County, styled "Motion for a Show-Cause Order, to require, the Grand Jury, to re-launch a full investigation, or Inquiry, and hearing, on Suppress facts * * *" (so in original), in which he claimed perjurious affidavits had been made in his case and that he was innocent. On September 16, 1963, Mr. Justice Geller, treating the application as a motion for a speedy trial and for a writ of habeas corpus, denied the motion with respect to the speedy trial on the ground that Daniels had not been certified as restored to sanity and denied habeas corpus on the ground that the "proper forum" was in Dutchess County.

 In 1964 and 1965, Daniels appears to have submitted no papers to the Supreme Court for New York County.

 In January, 1966, Daniels submitted an application for a writ of error coram nobis on the ground that his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights had been violated by police interrogation in the absence of counsel after his arrest; he also asked for a writ of mandamus directing the return of certain personal property allegedly confiscated by personnel at Matteawan. The application was denied by order entered April 15, 1966 on an opinion by Mr. Justice Klein, dated March 4, 1966, which stated that an application for coram nobis was premature; an application for a copy of all records in the case was similarly denied. Daniels then wrote to Mr. Justice Klein stating his desire to appeal, but no appeal was taken.

 In April, 1966, Daniels submitted a motion to dismiss the indictment. He claimed that his property had been seized by the police after his arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that he had been denied counsel during police interrogation after his arrest. The motion was denied by Mr. Justice Marks on May 6, 1966, "without prejudice to its renewal when defendant has regained mental competency".

 Mr. Justice Marks cited as authority for his decision the decision of the New York Court of Appeals in People v. Booth, 17 N.Y. 2d 681, 269 N.Y.S. 2d 457, 216 N.E. 2d 615 (1966). That decision, cited frequently as authority for denying subsequent applications by Daniels, states only:

 
"Order affirmed. In our opinion the trial court was correct in denying the writ of error coram nobis until petitioner's sanity is restored [citation omitted].
 
"All concur except Fuld, J., who dissents in the following memorandum: I do not believe that a defendant's mental condition disables him from seeking coram nobis relief. (Cf. Baxstrom v. Herold, 383 U.S. 107, 86 S. Ct. 760, 15 L. Ed. 2d 620). I would reverse and remand for a hearing on the merits."

 In July, 1966, Daniels submitted further papers seeking "reconsideration", apparently of his motion denied by Mr. Justice Marks on May 6, 1966. His claims are so insufficiently stated that they are impossible to summarize; he claimed violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and of "* * * basically, the Constitution's first eight amendments". He also claimed that he was not guilty and able to stand trial. Mr. Justice Schweitzer denied the application in an opinion dated August 18, 1966 and an order dated November 23, 1966 on the ground that Daniels' attack on the indictment was precluded by his insanity (citing People v. Booth, above) and that his claim of sanity could only be determined by habeas corpus in Dutchess County. A request for the appointment of counsel included in the papers was not referred to in the opinion of Mr. Justice Schweitzer.

 In January, 1967, Daniels submitted a motion to dismiss the indictment apparently on the ground that it was not based on fact. The motion was denied by order of Mr. Justice Aurelio, dated February 2, 1967, on the ground that Daniels needed "further care and treatment" and because "no legal warrant appears for granting any of the relief requested".

 In February, 1967, Daniels submitted a motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that he had been deprived of counsel at his interrogation by police after his arrest and that there had been "illegal search and seizure * * * to obtain objects and weapons after arrest". The motion was denied, on the authority of People v. Booth, above, by Mr. Justice Schweitzer in an opinion dated March 23, 1967; the order was dated April 7, 1967.

 A motion for copies of all papers in Daniels' file, submitted in June, 1967, was denied by Mr. Justice Schweitzer in an opinion dated July 12, 1967; the order was dated July 26, 1967. One ground given for denial of the motion was the decision in People v. Booth, above. A motion for reargument was denied on August 8, 1967 by Mr. Justice Schweitzer.

 In August, 1967, Daniels submitted a "Petition for an Order Show Cause" (so in the original), seeking an order directing a speedy trial of his indictment and his discharge from Matteawan. On August 21, 1967, the papers were endorsed by Mr. Justice Sarafite: "Defendant's pro se motion for a writ of error coram nobis is denied."

 Less than a week after the "Petition" discussed next above was submitted, Daniels sent another application to the court. It contained a motion for a bill of particulars, a demand for a bill of particulars (but in form directed to a defendant, not to the District Attorney), a motion to dismiss the indictment, a "demurrer to indictment" making various factual defenses, and an affidavit containing numerous allegations of fact about Daniels' whereabouts on the day the crimes are charged to have been committed. In a section of the application styled "Argument", Daniels claimed that he had been denied due process of law, equal protection of the laws, and a speedy trial. Relief was denied by Mr. Justice Schweitzer in an order dated September 7, 1967; the papers are endorsed: "Motion denied without prejudice to a renewal after defendant has been certified sane".

 An application submitted in early October, 1967, for the appointment of counsel and for "pre-trial discovery", in which some of the legal and factual arguments already mentioned above were again made, was denied by Mr. Justice Fine on October 17, 1967 on authority of People v. Booth, above.

 A motion to dismiss the indictment and a motion for a bill of particulars, making factual and Fifth and Sixth Amendment claims, were denied by order of Mr. Justice Postel dated December 6, 1967.

 A similar motion making many of the previous claims was denied by Mr. Justice Brust on August 14, 1968. A motion for reconsideration was denied by Mr. Justice Brust on August 28, 1968.

 Daniels submitted in August and September, 1968, requests for a copy of his indictment. Although the District Attorney opposed, citing People v. Booth, the motion was granted by Mr. Justice Schweitzer on September 25, 1968.

 A motion for reargument of the application denied by Mr. Justice Brust was submitted by Daniels in September, 1968. Daniels again raised claims of illegal search and seizure and complained of the denial of his motions on the authority of People v. Booth. The motion was denied by Mr. Justice Schweitzer on October 17, 1968, with a citation to People v. Booth.

 Under date of November 25, 1968, Daniels made another application for the dismissal of the indictment, again claiming its invalidity. This application as did many of the previous ones recites his incarceration since arrest on December 27, 1962 and his by then five and a half year confinement in Matteawan. The denial of counsel after arrest and unlawful search and seizure by the police were also claimed. In addition, significantly, Daniels stated:

 
"Especially when the defendant herein, has been locked up nearly six (6) years, since Dec. 27th 1962, and held in a Criminal Insane hospital (Matteawan) since May 7th 1963 for nearly 5 1/2 years, without a lawyer to investigate his case, surroundings circumstances of his case, or of his witnesses (30) thirty, to establish his innocence, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
 
"By being locked up after arrest, for six years, your honor, I have been deprived of speedy trial, Due Process of Law, in violation of Double Jeopardy, also Constitutional Rights, Civil Rights before trial.
 
"Your honor, it seems to be a crime to become mentally ill in New York State, for a person loses his Civil, Constitutional Rights, placed in Double Jeopardy, deprived of a speedy trial, Due Process of Law, and in the interest of Justice, without delays." (so in the original)

 This motion was denied, on the authority of People v. Booth, by Mr. Justice Schweitzer on December 9, 1968.

 On November 15, 1968, a notice of appeal by Daniels from Mr. Justice Schweitzer's order of October 17, 1968 was filed. On December 17, 1968, a notice of appeal by Daniels from Mr. Justice Schweitzer's order of December 9, 1968 was filed.

 On February 6, 1969, the Appellate Division, First Department, assigned the Legal Aid Society to represent Daniels on these two appeals.

 Daniels' brief in the Appellate Division was furnished to me by the Legal Aid Society. The claim made in the Appellate Division for Daniels was that his "incarceration at Matteawan State Hospital violates his constitutional rights to a speedy trial, to due process of law and to equal protection of the law" (so in the original).

 On May 26, 1970, the Appellate Division affirmed without opinion both orders appealed from. 34 A.D. 2d 897, 311 N.Y.S. 2d 814.

 Inquiry by my staff of the Clerk's office of the New York Court of Appeals secured advice that leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals from this order of the Appellate Division was denied by Judge Burke on August 11, 1970.

 On April 8, 1969, Mr. Justice Schweitzer made an order which recited that the Superintendent of Matteawan State Hospital had certified that Daniels was "no longer in such a state of idiocy, imbecility or insanity as to be incapable to understand the charge now pending against him * * * or of making his defense thereto * * *" and which directed that Daniels be delivered to the House of Detention for Men in Manhattan for appearance in the Supreme Court. See Code of Cr. Proc. § 662-b.

 On May 1, 1969, Daniels pleaded not guilty to the indictment and an appearance was filed by his attorneys, Zapata and Halbert, Esqs., apparently privately retained.

 On July 28, 1969, Mr. Justice Dollinger ordered that Daniels be committed to Bellevue Hospital for examination by two qualified psychiatrists to determine his mental capacity to understand court proceedings and to make his defense.

 On October 7, 1969, a hearing was held at Bellevue Hospital before Mr. Justice Riccobono; the transcript of that hearing was submitted to me. Dr. Eugene Allen of the Psychiatric Division of Bellevue testified and was cross examined by counsel for Daniels. His testimony was that Daniels was incompetent to stand trial because of mental illness. Daniels also testified. Mr. Justice Riccobono confirmed the psychiatric report and the same day made an order which recited that Daniels was "in such a state of idiocy, imbecility or incompetency that he is now incapable of understanding the charge or proceedings against him, or of making his defense * * *" and which committed Daniels "to the custody of the Commissioner of Mental Hygiene to be placed in an appropriate state institution of the Department of Mental Hygiene or of the Department of Correction as may be designated for the custody of such person by agreement between the heads of the two departments, there to be safely kept in custody and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.