Federal Criminal Procedure-Collateral Relief Under 28 U.S.C. Section 2255- Discretion of Sentencing Court to Dismiss Successive Application Without Hearing
Prisoner, sentenced by a United States district court, filed two successive motions to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. section 2255, which provides for a compulsory motion procedure for federal prisoners in lieu of habeas corpus. Under this section, a prisoner is required to petition the court which sentenced him in order to test the legality of his detention. The motion must be given a prompt hearing, “unless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief. .. ” If a successive motion is filed for “similar relief” the sentencing court may properly dismiss the motion without a hearing. Both of prisoner’s motions were denied by the sentencing court without hearing, although the second motion alleged a new factual ground which, if substantiated, would have entitled him to relief. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the second motion, even though supported by a new ground, was a motion for “similar relief” under section 2255, which the sentencing court may dismiss without hearing. On certiorari, held, reversed, two Justices dissenting. A successive motion is for “similar relief” only when the same ground was decided against petitioner on the merits in a prior proceeding. Sanders v. United States, 373 U.S. 1 (1963).