Cuyler v. Adams

LOCATION: The United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

DOCKET NO.: 78-1841
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 449 US 433 (1981)
ARGUED: Oct 07, 1980
DECIDED: Jan 21, 1981

James Douglas Crawford - on behalf of the Respondent
Maria Parisi Vickers - on behalf of Petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for Cuyler v. Adams

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 07, 1980 in Cuyler v. Adams

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 21, 1981 in Cuyler v. Adams

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Cuyler against Adams and in Minnesota against Clover Leaf Creamery will be each announced by Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

In the first of these cases, Cuyler v. Adams, a question is raised of the relationship between the Interstate Agreement on Detainers and the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act.

The specific issue that we decided is whether a prisoner confined in a State that has adopted the Extradition Act is entitled the procedural protections of that Act, particularly the right to a pretransfer hearing before being transferred to another State pursuant to Article IV for the Detainer Act.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit applied federal law and construed the two statutes as entitling the prisoner to such protections.

And for that reason, the Court of Appeals did not reach or decide a constitutional claim which was also urged.

In contrast, the Pennsylvania Superior Court which is the Intermediate Appellate Court of that State did reach the constitutional claims and held that state prisoners transferred under Article IV, the Detainer Agreement, had no constitutional right to a pretransfer hearing.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals view was that the constitutional question need not be reached because the Detainer Agreement is an interstate compact approved by congress under the Compact Clause and thus as a federal law subject to federal rather than state construction.

We affirm the holdings of the Court of Appeals both in its ruling that the Detainer Agreement is a federal compact subject to federal construction and in its construction that the statutes are to be construed to entitle a prisoner before being transferred of the procedural protections of the Extradition Act.

Our reasons for reaching that result are set forth at length in an opinion filed with the Court today.

Justice Rehnquist joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Stewart has filed a dissenting opinion.