VON MOLTKE V. GILLIES, 332 U. S. 708 (1948)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Von Moltke v. Gillies, 332 U.S. 708 (1948)

Von Moltke v. Gillies

No. 73

Argued November 20, 1947

Decided January 19, 1948

332 U.S. 708


Upon an indictment for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act of 1917, the penalty for which may be death or imprisonment for as long as 30 years, petitioner signed a paper purporting to waive her right to counsel, and pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to imprisonment for four years. In a subsequent habeas corpus proceeding challenging the validity of the sentence, she alleged (1) that the plea was entered because of coercion, intimidation, and deception by federal officers in violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, and (2) that she neither understandingly waived the benefit of the advice of counsel nor was provided with the assistance of counsel as required by the Sixth Amendment. The District Court heard the conflicting evidence offered by petitioner and the Government, found that petitioner had failed to prove either contention, and dismissed the writ. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.


The judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals is reversed, and that of the District Court is set aside. The cause is remanded to the District Court so that it may hold further hearings and give consideration to, and make explicit findings upon, the question whether the petitioner pleaded guilty in reliance upon the erroneous legal advice of a Government agent. If upon such further hearings and consideration, the District Court finds that the petitioner did not competently, intelligently, and with full understanding of the implications waive her constitutional right to counsel, an order should be entered directing that she be released from further custody under the judgment based on her plea. Pp. 332 U. S. 709-710, 332 U. S. 727.

161 F.2d 113 reversed.

In a habeas corpus proceeding in which the petitioner sought release from imprisonment under a sentence upon her plea of guilty to an indictment for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act of 1917, the District Court dismissed

Page 332 U. S. 709

the writ. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. 161 F.2d 113. This Court granted certiorari. 331 U.S. 800. Reversed and remanded, p. 332 U. S. 727.

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