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Case Name Morrissey v. Brewer CJ-IA-0001
Docket / Court 69-20468 ( S.D. Iowa )
Additional Docket(s) 70-20478  [ 70-20478 ]  Southern District of IA (U.S.)
State/Territory Iowa
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
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 ... read more >
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.

John Duffield - 07/07/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Habeas Corpus
Parole grant/revocation
Placement in detention facilities
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Causes of Action Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
State law
Defendant(s) State of Iowa
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.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Habeas relief
Informal hearings required to revoke parole
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 04/15/1970
Case Closing Year 1972
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Stateville: The Penitentiary in Mass Society
Date: 1977
By: James B. Jacobs (New York University School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ]

Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
U.S. Court of Appeals
04/21/1971
Opinion [Reversing District Court's Ruling] (443 F.2d 942)
CJ-IA-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Supreme Court
12/20/1971
Opinion [Granting Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court for the Eighth Circuit] (404 U.S. 999)
CJ-IA-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Supreme Court
01/17/1972
Opinion [Granting Motion for the Appointment of Counsel] (404 U.S. 1036)
CJ-IA-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Supreme Court
02/28/1972
Opinion [Granting Motion to Dispense With Printing Amicus Curiae Brief] (405 U.S. 951)
CJ-IA-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Supreme Court
06/29/1972
Opinion [Reversing Judgments and Remanding Case] (408 U.S. 471)
CJ-IA-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Westlaw
show all people docs
Judges Burger, Warren Earl (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
CJ-IA-0001-0005
Gibson, Floyd Robert (W.D. Mo., Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
CJ-IA-0001-0001
Matthes, Marion Charles (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
CJ-IA-0001-0001
Mehaffy, Pat (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
CJ-IA-0001-0001
Van Oosterhout, Martin Donald (Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
CJ-IA-0001-0001

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