Case: Morrissey v. Brewer

4:69-20468 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa

Filed Date: Sept. 12, 1969

Closed Date: June 29, 1972

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is an older case about whether due process rights are violated when a parole board revokes someone's parole without a hearing. Two petitions for habeas corpus were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa: Booher v. Lee County, filed on March 11, 1970 (docket number 70-20478); and Morrissey v. Brewer, filed on Sept. 12, 1969 (docket number 69-20468).The petitioners, Morrissey and Booher, were individually convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern Distr…

This is an older case about whether due process rights are violated when a parole board revokes someone's parole without a hearing. Two petitions for habeas corpus were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa: Booher v. Lee County, filed on March 11, 1970 (docket number 70-20478); and Morrissey v. Brewer, filed on Sept. 12, 1969 (docket number 69-20468).

The petitioners, Morrissey and Booher, were individually convicted in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in the late 1960s; each was subsequently granted parole by the Iowa Board of Parole in 1968. Petitioner Morrissey was arrested as a parole violator in January 1969, after review of his parole officer's report by the Iowa Board of Parole. Petitioner Booher was arrested as a parole violator in August 1969, after a similar review of his parole officer's report. Each petitioner filed separate petitions for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that the revocation of his parole by the Iowa Board of Parole without first receiving a hearing on the matter violated the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process guarantee. The district court in each case denied the petitions (Brewer's on April 15, 1970 and Booher's on June 10, 1970), and the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals consolidated the cases upon review.

On April 21, 1971, the Eighth Circuit, in an opinion authored by Chief Judge Marion Matthes, affirmed the district court rulings. The circuit court reasoned that the State Board of Parole, as a law enforcement agency, was vested with a wide discretion in controlling the persons committed to its custody--a discretion the court was not comfortable in challenging. While the circuit court recognized that the traditional view of parole--as a privilege rather than a vested right--was no longer dispositive, the court reasoned that the state's legitimate interest of effectively managing the custodial affairs of its prison population outweighed the individual's interest in obtaining early release. 443 F.2d 942 (1971).

The petitioners appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which granted review in late 1971.

On June 29, 1972, the Supreme Court (in an 8-1 decision) reversed the Eighth Circuit. The Supreme Court reasoned that the interest at issue for the petitioners fell within the contemplation of the Fourteenth Amendment, thus due process concerns applied. While acknowledging the state's legitimate interest of effectively enforcing the laws, the Supreme Court found no state interest in revoking parole without procedural safeguards for the parolee. The Supreme Court further found society had an interest in not having parole improperly revoked, as doing so would make integrating the parolee back into society more difficult. The court concluded by evaluating the nature of what parole revocation consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment should constitute, including: (1) a determination by a third party that reasonable grounds exist for parole revocation; (2) notice of the grounds and the opportunity to bring evidence; and (3) an opportunity for a hearing, if so desired by the parolee. 408 U.S. 471 (1972).

The case was remanded back to the district court. No information is available about whether and for how long litigation continued subsequent to the Supreme Court ruling in 1972.

Summary Authors

John Duffield (7/7/2021)

People


Judge(s)

Bright, Myron H. (North Dakota)

Burger, Warren Earl (District of Columbia)

Gibson, Floyd Robert (Missouri)

Heaney, Gerald William (Minnesota)

Lay, Donald Pomery (Minnesota)

Matthes, Marion Charles (Missouri)

Mehaffy, Pat (Arkansas)

Van Oosterhout, Martin Donald (Iowa)

Judge(s)

Bright, Myron H. (North Dakota)

Burger, Warren Earl (District of Columbia)

Gibson, Floyd Robert (Missouri)

Heaney, Gerald William (Minnesota)

Lay, Donald Pomery (Minnesota)

Matthes, Marion Charles (Missouri)

Mehaffy, Pat (Arkansas)

Van Oosterhout, Martin Donald (Iowa)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

71-20328

71-20425

Opinion [Reversing District Court's Ruling]

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

443 F.2d 942

April 21, 1971

April 21, 1971

Order/Opinion

71-05103

Opinion [Granting Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court for the Eighth Circuit]

Supreme Court of the United States

404 U.S. 999, 92 S.Ct. 568

Dec. 20, 1971

Dec. 20, 1971

Order/Opinion

71-05103

Opinion [Granting Motion for the Appointment of Counsel]

Supreme Court of the United States

404 U.S. 1036, 92 S.Ct. 717

Jan. 17, 1972

Jan. 17, 1972

Order/Opinion

71-05103

Opinion [Granting Motion to Dispense With Printing Amicus Curiae Brief]

Supreme Court of the United States

405 U.S. 951, 92 S.Ct. 1179

Feb. 28, 1972

Feb. 28, 1972

Order/Opinion

71-05103

Opinion [Reversing Judgments and Remanding Case]

Supreme Court of the United States

408 U.S. 471, 92 S.Ct. 2593

June 29, 1972

June 29, 1972

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 6, 2022, 3:16 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Iowa

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 12, 1969

Closing Date: June 29, 1972

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs were two individuals who had been arrested under Iowa state law, granted parole by the state parole board, and had subsequently had their parole revoked following the submission of their parole supervisor's report on parole violations.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Unknown

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of Iowa, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Procedural Due Process

Special Case Type(s):

Habeas

Availably Documents:

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

U.S. Supreme Court merits opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Habeas relief

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Habeas Corpus

Parole grant/revocation

Placement in detention facilities