LOCATION: Dames & Moore
DOCKET NO.: 79-621
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
CITATION: 451 US 232 (1981)
ARGUED: Nov 10, 1980
DECIDED: Apr 21, 1981
Daniel Jesse Smith - on behalf of the Petitioner
James D. Whitney - on behalf of the Respondent
Facts of the case
Media for Arizona v. ManypennyAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 10, 1980 in Arizona v. Manypenny
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 21, 1981 in Arizona v. Manypenny
Warren E. Burger:
The judgment and opinion of the Court in the State of Arizona against Manypenny will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.
Harry A. Blackmun:
This case also comes to us by way of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
The respondent, William Manypenny was employed as a Border Patrol Agent in the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service.
In one night in 1976 while he and another agent were patrolling the Sweetwater Pass in Pima County, Arizona approximately 10 miles from the Mexican border, they came across three persons suspected of being illegal alien entrance.
And during the encounter, agent Manypenny fired a shotgun and seriously wounded one of the suspects.
Manypenny was indicted for a commission of a state crime that is assault with a deadly weapon and violation of an Arizona statute.
However, because this charge arose from an act committed while he was on duty as a federal Border Patrol Agent, Manypenny as he could remove the case from state court into federal court.
A jury trial took place there and a verdict of guilty was returned.
But thereafter, the District Court concluded that Manypenny had a valid immunity defense and entered a judgment of acquittal.
The State of Arizona appealed but the federal Court of Appeals dismissed the case or the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
It held that a criminal proceeding removed to a federal court arose under federal law and accordingly is controlled by that law.
The Court rejected the suggestion that Arizona's appeal was authorized by Section 1291 of Title 28 a jurisdictional statute relating to appeals from final judgments of federal District Courts.
In an opinion filed with the clerk today, we hold that in a criminal proceeding removed from a state to federal court, a State may appeal if statutory authority to seek such review is conferred by state law.
Because Arizona law conferred such authority here and because the removal does not alter the nature of the authority conferred, the State must be allowed to appeal from the judgment of acquittal entered after the verdict of guilty.
The defendant by obtaining a federal forum fully vindicated in the federal policy supporting removal.
No further purpose of the removal statute would be served by denying the State the right to seek review when that very right is available under state law.
We think it would be anomalous to conclude that the State's appellate right which it clearly had under state law was diminished solely because of the removal.
Section 1291 neither compels nor forecloses appellate jurisdiction over an appeal taken by a state as prosecutor.
Instead, it permits the State to appeal if it is authorized to do so by a state law.
Arizona can rely on Section 1291 combined with appellate authorization from the Arizona legislature.
And in the circumstances of this case no more is required.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is therefore reversed and the cases remanded to that court for further proceedings consistent with the opinion filed today.
Mr. Justice Stevens, while joining the opinion, has filed a separate concurrence.
Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a dissenting opinion and has joined therein by Mr. Justice Marshall.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you Mr. Justice Blackmun.