Baker v. McCollan

LOCATION: Vineville Presbyterian Church

DOCKET NO.: 78-752
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 443 US 137 (1979)
ARGUED: Apr 23, 1979
DECIDED: Jun 26, 1979

A. W. Sorelle III -
Douglas R. Larson - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Baker v. McCollan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 23, 1979 in Baker v. McCollan

Warren E. Burger:

The case is submitted.

We'll hear arguments next in 752, Baker against McCollan.

Mr. SoRelle, I think you may proceed now.

A. W. Sorelle III:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Respondent brought this Section 1983 action alleging a violation of Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

The facts are basically uncontroverted.

Respondent was born December 8, 1949 and originally given the name Linny spelled L-I-N-N-Y, C-A-R-R-O-L-L, McCollon with an O-N.

He informally adopted the name in which he uses today in this proceeding with the different spelling of Linnie, middle name Carl, and McCollan with an A-N.

The date of birth significant only because later in by 1972 respondent had a Texas driver's license identifying him as Linnie Carl McCollan and through error the birth date of December 8, 1948 was inserted and even though he knew of it did not correct it and therefore it became part of his assumed identity.

Warren E. Burger:

And whose date of birth was that?

A. W. Sorelle III:

No one that we know of, Your Honor.

These facts would not be particularly significant except for the remarkable coincidence and I say a coincidence because that's all the record will support that respondent's older brother whose true name was Leonard decided in 1972 to adopt the identical assumed name and went so far as to seek a duplicate driver's license in the name of Linnie Carl McCollan.

Unfortunate, through some error of Department of Public Safety the same was issued and older brother Leonard had a driver's license but identified him as Linnie Carl McCollan date of birth December 8, 1948.

All information is the same including the driver's license number being identical but the only difference in the two driver's license is being the photographs on the license themselves.

Then unfortunately, Leonard posing his --

Thurgood Marshall:

Did (Inaudible) save him?

A. W. Sorelle III:

Yes, sir.

Probably, I think you're absolutely correct.

It would've said that duplicate on the one that Leonard had in any case, that you're right, it would have (Inaudible) it.

But other than the duplicate words and the photograph, the identifying information was identical.

Leonard acting as Linnie was then arrested in October of 1972 on a drug violation was booked as Linnie Carl McCollan was released on bail as Linnie Carl McCollan signed all the papers that he signed as Linnie McCollan and then left to town presumably because his bonds been later surrendered the bond in sought to have a warrant issued for the missing Linnie Carl McCollan.

The Justice of the Peace dutifully issued a warrant for the arrest of Linnie Carl McCollan, a copy of which is in the appendix.

One significant item in this point, the warrant was issued on November 3, 1972.

This suit is against petitioner Baker who was sheriff of Potter County but he was not sheriff of Potter County up till this time.

In fact, certain events happened one in this case, one being the death of Sheriff Gaither, his predecessor.

Sheriff Baker was then appointed on November 28, 1972, newly in office.

Then the respondent becomes involved when on December 26, 1972,a Dallas police officer stopped the respondent for traffic violation reported the name and identifying information through their central office and was informed that there was a Potter County warrant outstanding for Linnie Carl McCollan.

He dutifully arrested him, took him to the station, a respondent protested that he wasn't the man wanted and there's no evidence of whether this was a unique statement but in any case the police officer did ask his superior to contact Potter County.

They compared the identifying information and as you might expect said no, this is the man, that's the man we want with a warrant.

In December 30th, Potter County Deputy with a warrant went to Dallas, picked up respondent, returned him to the Potter County Jail, evening of December 30th.