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Supreme Court of the United States
Argued March 29, 1976 ; June 10, 1976
[*319] [***671] [**2088] MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST announced the judgment of the Court in an opinion in which THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE STEWART, and MR. JUSTICE POWELL join.
This case presents the question of whether the restrictions imposed by 28 U.S.C. § 753 on the availability to an indigent prisoner of a free trial transcript to aid him in preparing a petition for collateral relief are consistent with the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in contrast to every other [****5] Court of Appeals which has ruled on the issue, held that such prisoners have an absolute right to a transcript. We reverse.
Respondent was convicted of uttering forged currency in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 472 after a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. On June 3, 1970, he was sentenced [**2089] to 10 years' imprisonment. He did not appeal. Nearly two years later respondent, acting pro se, filed in the District Court a paper designated "Motion for Transcript in Forma Pauperis." This was returned to respondent with the advice that he first had to file a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 before the court could act on his request for a transcript.
Respondent then filed a "complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief" in which he alleged that he "intends to move this Court for vacation of his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255." He asserted that he was unable to afford a transcript, that a transcript would show that he had not been afforded effective assistance of counsel, and that there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict of guilty. The complaint further alleged that without a transcript respondent [****6] would be "unable to frame his arguments for fair and [*320] effective [***672] review." The complaint did not elaborate upon respondent's two asserted grounds for relief.
The District Court treated this pleading as a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, granted respondent leave to proceed in forma pauperis, appointed counsel, and held a hearing. After the hearing the court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Respondent appealed, and a divided panel of the Court of Appeals reversed, 511 F. 2d 1116 (1974), holding that respondent was entitled to a transcript "in order to assist him in the preparation of a post-conviction motion under 28 U.S.C. [§ ] 2255." Id., at 1124.
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426 U.S. 317 *; 96 S. Ct. 2086 **; 48 L. Ed. 2d 666 ***; 1976 U.S. LEXIS 58 ****
UNITED STATES v. MACCOLLOM
Prior History: CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIR
free transcript, indigent, proceedings, plurality, furnishing, direct appeal, frivolous, Appeals, collateral, indigent defendant, district court, habeas corpus, in forma pauperis, equal protection, allegations, purposes, adequate opportunity, collateral attack, public funds, expenditure, ineffective, courts, cases, join