Barry v. Barchi

LOCATION: Butler Residence

DOCKET NO.: 77-803
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)

CITATION: 443 US 55 (1979)
ARGUED: Nov 07, 1978
DECIDED: Jun 25, 1979

Joseph A. Faraldo - for appellee
Robert S. Hammer - for appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Barry v. Barchi

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 07, 1978 in Barry v. Barchi

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in 803, Barry against Barchi.

Mr. Hammer, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Robert S. Hammer:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The question presented by this case is whether a statute which provides for the summary suspension of the occupational license of a harness racing participant prior to any hearing on disciplinary charges denies such licensee due process or equal protection of the laws.

A statutory District Court for the Southern District of New York held that it indeed it did.

We respectfully disagree.

We have appealed and we asked this Court to reverse.

On June 22nd of 1976, a horse named Be Alert which was trained by the plaintiff run second in a race at Monticello Raceway.

Prior to the race, a blood test was conducted to determine whether any drugs were in the horse's system.

That test was passed, however, subsequent to the race, a urine test was conducted and traces of a drug called Lasix were found in the horse's urine.

At page 6a of the jurisdictional statement note 5 in the opinion of the three-judge court, the Court pointed out that Lasix is a diuretic and may in fact enhanced the performance of the animal.

Under the rules of the Racing and Wagering Board, no such drug may be given to the horse within 48 hours of a race.

As I indicated, this race was conducted on June the 22nd, two days later, the post race test results came back and Mr. Barchi, the plaintiff was called before the stewards.

He was given word of this test results and was asked for an explanation.

Subsequently, both at his initiative and at the initiative of the Racing and Wagering Board, two separate polygraph test were taken.

Apparently, the polygraph indicated that Mr. Barchi was being truthful in his statements and despite the efforts of the Board to find out exactly what happened to the horse an inconclusive investigation in sued.

On the 8th of July, the trainer's license was suspended on the basis of what is called the trainers responsibility rule as in the case of a ship's captain who is responsible for everything that goes on board, the trainer likewise is responsible for the health and condition of his horse.

Now, we had the opportunity as we indicated for an informal conference at the time he was originally confronted with the results of the test and we suggest that this would come within the Rule of Goss against Lopez.

Under the statute, Section 8022 of our unconsolidated laws, he could have had a full quasi judicial hearing within a few days, however, he did not avail himself of this opportunity to be heard and as a result, this case was brought.

Under Section 8022, a licensee is the prime mover of any hearing conducted as a result of disciplinary action taken against him.

Only he may demand the hearing and he must demand it within 10 days.

John Paul Stevens:

General Hammer, could I just ask one question about when they find the drug -- evidence of drug in the horse and it's presumed that the drug affected the performance of the animal in the race as I understand your rules, does that mean that something is done with the race itself or the results change or is there anything to undo the harmful consequence to the public of the race itself?

Robert S. Hammer:

Well, Your Honor, nothing can be done.

At that time, the pari-mutuel pay off is immediate and the results of the race are not affected.

John Paul Stevens:

But is there any discipline against anyone other than the trainer if we held to that finding in that presumption.

Robert S. Hammer:

The presumption is a rebuttable presumption which relates only to the trainer.

However, Mr. Justice Stevens, the -- if for example it were found that a third party a track tout or someone else's groom drug the horse then of course --

John Paul Stevens:

I do mean supposing it's a mystery as to what really happened but just from the presumption itself which includes the presumption that performance of the animal was affected by it which of course would affect the owner's record and all the rest of it, nothing happens to anyone except to the trainer as a result of that presumption.

Robert S. Hammer:

That's correct, Your Honor.

William H. Rehnquist:

Sometimes you see the inquiry sign go up on the tote board, you know and then it stays on for about 20 minutes or half an hour and then it's replaced by an official sign and they put up the odds.