In a California State Court, petitioners were tried jointly, convicted of 13 felonies and sentenced to imprisonment. Exercising their only right to appeal as of right, they appealed to an intermediate Court of Appeals, and, being indigent, applied to it for appointment of counsel to assist them on appeal. In accordance with a state rule of criminal procedure, that Court made an ex parte examination of the record, determined that appointment of counsel for petitioners would not be "of advantage to the defendant or helpful to the appellate court" and denied appointment of counsel. Their appeal was heard without assistance of counsel and their convictions were affirmed. The State Supreme Court denied a discretionary review. Held: Where the merits of the one and only appeal an indigent has as of right are decided without benefit of counsel in a state criminal case, there has been a discrimination between the rich and the poor which violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 353-358.
187 Cal. App. 2d 802, 10 Cal. Rptr. 188, judgment vacated and cause remanded.
Marvin M. Mitchelson and Burton Marks reargued the cause for petitioners. With them on the briefs were A. L. Wirin, Fred Okrand and Nanette Dembitz.
William E. James, Assistant Attorney General of California, and Jack E. Goertzen, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With them on the briefs was Stanley Mosk, Attorney General.