California Department of Human Resources Development v. Java

PETITIONER: California Department of Human Resources Development
LOCATION: Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)

CITATION: 402 US 121 (1971)
ARGUED: Feb 24, 1971
DECIDED: Apr 26, 1971

Facts of the case


Media for California Department of Human Resources Development v. Java

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 24, 1971 in California Department of Human Resources Development v. Java

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Number 507, California against Judith Java and others.

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

Asher Rubin:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case comes to this Court on a direct appeal from the decision of a three-judge federal court in the Northern district of California.

The facts of the case are these.

Judith Java was working for a small newspaper in the town of Pittsburg California in August of 1969.

During this employment, she stepped out one day at about noon with another reporter, went to a bar next to the newspaper office, stayed there for a while and returned to the office.

The managing editor of the newspaper observed that the reporter with Mrs. Java appeared to be drunk.

There was some exchange, the reporter was fired on the spot and Mrs. Java was also fired on the spot.

Later when Mrs. Java applied for unemployment insurance benefits, she claimed that when she was in the bar, she had some tomato juice and nothing more.

The referee however found that she had alcoholic beverages, she smelled of alcohol, she was glassy eyed, she was staggered or speech was slurred and the referee in short believed the employer who maintained that that was the reason, he fired her for misconduct.

After her employment was terminated, Mrs. Java applied for unemployment insurance benefits.

She went to the unemployment insurance office, she had an interview.

She was given some forms to fill out.

She went home, came back some time later after the interviewer had a chance to verify whether she had sufficient wages in her base period.

And a form was sent out to the employer for him to state his version of the facts and why she was terminated.

It does not appear that this form was ever returned by the employer but when Mrs. Java returned for her eligibility interview, the interviewer listened to her and apparently contacted the employer and the interviewer believed Mrs. Java who was sitting right there.

The interviewer believed she'd had tomato juice that there was not enough evidence otherwise and found in her favor.

Byron R. White:

That is not an issue for as, is it?

Asher Rubin:

No Your Honor.

But the reason I outlined these facts is because I feel that the factual circumstances and cases like these maybe dispositive.

When we get to the point later, when we discuss the Goldberg versus Kelly case, I believe the difference in factual approach, factual circumstances may be --

How about being down to a meaning of the two words “when due?”

Asher Rubin:

Your Honor, that issue goes to the conformity question as to whether the --

Could that be the main issue?

Asher Rubin:

I don't believe so Your Honor and I had intended to leave that question “when due,” in a context of the statute to the briefs.

I believe that the Court as you know decided this case on two grounds, on a conformity question, whether we're paying “when due,” and secondly on a due process question.

It went on from the statutory ground then decided it on due process.

And I think that that is the more important issue here today.

I think that the “when due” problem, while it bears on due process is essentially a statutory problem which has been covered in the briefs.