Search Supreme Court Cases

CHEWNING V. CUNNINGHAM, 368 U. S. 443 (1962)

U.S. Supreme Court

Chewning v. Cunningham, 368 U.S. 443 (1962)

Chewning v. Cunningham

No. 63

Argued December 4-5, 1961

Decided February 19, 1962

368 U.S. 443


In a trial in a Virginia court at which he requested but was denied counsel, petitioner was convicted of having been three times convicted and sentenced for felonies, and he was sentenced to 10 years' additional imprisonment. The applicable statute provides that, when it appears that a person convicted of an offense has been previously sentenced "to a like punishment," he may be tried on an information that alleges "the existence of records of prior convictions and the identity of the prisoner named in each," and it leaves to the trial court's discretion the length of the sentence which may be imposed for three or more convictions. Under Virginia law, not only the identity of the prisoner and the existence of the records, but also the validity of the prior convictions, may be at issue in such a proceeding.

Held: trial on a charge of being a habitual criminal is such a serious one, the issues presented under Virginia's statute are so complex, and the potential prejudice resulting from the absence of counsel is so great that petitioner's trial and conviction without counsel violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 368 U. S. 443-447.


Powered by Justia US Supreme Court Center: CHEWNING V. CUNNINGHAM, 368 U. S. 443 (1962)

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.