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Curran v. Wooley

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County

September 23, 1953

CURRAN et al.
v.
WOOLEY et al.

Supplemental Opinion Nov. 6, 1953.

Petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Superior Court, New Castle County, Layton, J., held that prisoners seeking issuance of writ of habeas corpus upon ground that their rights under federal constitution had been violated would be required to first exhaust their remedies under criminal procedure rule relative to correction of illegal sentence.

Petition dismissed without prejudice.

In habeas corpus proceeding, in determining whether prisoners should be forced first to exhaust remedies under rule of criminal procedure relating to correction of illegal sentence, contention of prisoners that under remedies granted by criminal rules they would be sharply limited in efforts to obtain pre-trial discovery was not sustainable, in view of fact that state had made statement on record that it would not oppose prisoners' attempts to obtain discovery pursuant to proceeding under criminal rule. Rules of Superior Court, Criminal rule 35, Del.C.Ann.; 10 Del.C. § § 6901, 6902; Const. art. 1, § 13.

[48 Del. 216] Petitioners were arrested and charged with rape upon one Jean Igle on October 30, 1947. They were given a preliminary hearing in the Municipal Court of Wilmington on November 12. Petitioners Maguire and Jones were represented by Counsel. Curran was not. Petitioners were brought to trial on February 10, 1948, at which time Curran also was represented. On February 18, a verdict of guilty with a recommendation of mercy was returned. Motions for new trials were filed promptly.

Page 304

On March 15, petitioners were sentenced to jail for life. On March 16, the motions for new trials were argued and thereafter denied. No appeal was ever taken and it is conceded by counsel that the time for taking an appeal has expired.

This petition seeks the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus upon the eight following grounds:

1. Were the statement contributing to the conviction of the relators in this case voluntary?

2. Were the statements contributing to the conviction of the relators falsely and illegally executed in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

3. Did the deliberate neglect of the Police to investigate known sources of evidence amount to a denial of equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?

4. Were all the relators given the opportunity to have the benefit of Assistance of Counsel at the Preliminary Hearing as required by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?

5. Were the relators convicted by an illegally constituted jury in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States through the failure of the State of Delaware to observe the mandate of the Nineteenth Amendment giving female voters opportunity to serve on juries?

6. Did the atmosphere created by false and distorted newspaper and radio notoriety preclude the relators from receiving [48 Del. 217] a fair and impartial trial within the meaning of the Sixth Amendment and the due process clause of the Constitution of the United States?

7. Were the voluntary statements initially signed by the relators and witnessed by the Police illegally suppressed at trial and otherwise excluded from evidence by the perjury of the Police witnesses, in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?

8. Did the general pattern of the prosecution and cumulative fundamental errors of the Court result in the deprivation of the life, liberty and property of relators in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?

[48 Del. 215] Herbert L. Maris, Charles F. G. Smith, Philadelphia, Pa., Irving Morris, ...


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