DRAPER V. WASHINGTON, 372 U. S. 487 (1963)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Draper v. Washington, 372 U.S. 487 (1963)

Draper v. Washington

No. 201

Argued January 16, 1963

Decided March 18, 1963

372 U.S. 487


In a trial in a State Court in which they were represented by court-appointed counsel, petitioners were convicted of robbery and sentenced to imprisonment. Their motions for a new trial were denied. Being indigents and acting pro se, they filed notices of appeal and motions for a free transcript of the record. After a hearing before the trial judge, at which petitioners represented themselves and also had the benefit of court-directed argument by their trial counsel, the trial judge entered findings of fact and conclusions of law respecting each error claimed by petitioners. He then denied their request for a transcript on the ground that their assignments of error were patently frivolous, their guilt had been established by overwhelming evidence, and the furnishing of a transcript would waste public funds. Solely on the basis of a record of the hearing on this motion, the State Supreme Court sustained the trial judge's ruling on the motion.

Held: The rules of the State of Washington governing the provision of transcripts to indigent criminal defendants for purposes of appeal were applied in this case so as to deprive petitioners of rights guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 372 U. S. 488-500.

(a) A State need not purchase a stenographer's transcript in every case where a defendant cannot buy it. Alternative methods of reporting trial proceedings are permissible if they place before the appellate court an equivalent report of the events at trial from which the appellant's contentions arise. Pp. 372 U. S. 495-496.

(b) In this case, the materials before the State Supreme Court when it reviewed the trial judge's denial of a free transcript did not constitute a record of sufficient completeness for adequate consideration of the errors assigned by petitioners on their appeal. Pp. 372 U. S. 496-497.

(c) By allowing the trial judge to prevent petitioners from having stenographic support or its equivalent for presentation of each of their separate contentions to the appellate tribunal, the State denied them rights assured them under the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 372 U. S. 497-499.

Page 372 U. S. 488

(d) The conclusion of the trial judge that an indigent's appeal is frivolous is an inadequate substitute for the full appellate review available to nonindigents in Washington when the effect of that finding is to prevent an appellate examination based upon a sufficiently complete record of the trial proceedings themselves. Pp. 372 U. S. 499-500.

58 Wash.2d 830, 365 P.2d 31, reversed and cause remanded.

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