RESPONDENT: New Banner Institute, Inc.
LOCATION: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
DOCKET NO.: 81-1180
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
CITATION: 460 US 103 (1983)
ARGUED: Nov 29, 1982
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1983
Kenneth Steven Geller - on behalf of the Petitioner
Lewis C. Lanier - on behalf of the Respondent
Facts of the case
Media for Dickerson v. New Banner Institute, Inc.Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 29, 1982 in Dickerson v. New Banner Institute, Inc.
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 23, 1983 in Dickerson v. New Banner Institute, Inc.
Warren E. Burger:
Justice Blackmun has two -- the judgments and opinions in two cases to announce.
Harry A. Blackmun:
The first is No. 81-1180, Dickerson against New Banner Institute.
This case comes to us by way of certiorari to the Fourth Circuit.
Title IV of the Gun Control Act of 1968, makes it unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a felony to engage in the business of dealing in firearms without a license.
The Act also provides that a license shall be denied to an applicant corporation if a person with power to direct the management of that corporation is a convicted felon.
The respondent's chairman, a man named Kennison, who is a resident of South Carolina pleaded guilty in Iowa -- in an Iowa state court to a charge of carrying a concealed handgun.
Under Iowa law this was a felony.
Pursuant to an Iowa statute however, the Iowa court deferred entry of formal judgment and placed Mr. Kennison on probation.
After the completion of his probation term, he was discharged pursuant to another state statute and his record with respect to the deferred judgment was expunged.
A federal license that had been issued to the respondent corporation as a firearms dealer was revoked when the Federal Firearms Bureau learned of the Iowa proceeding against Mr. Kennison.
The Federal District Court upheld that revocation, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that although Kennison had been convicted of an offense that triggered firearms disability, that fact could not serve as a predicate for a Gun Control Act violation or a license revocation because the conviction had been expunged under the Iowa deferred judgment procedure.
In an opinion filed with the clerk today, we hold that the firearms disabilities imposed by the Gun Control Act apply to Kennison and were not removed by the expunction of the record of his guilty plea to the concealed weapon charged.
A plea of guilty to a disqualifying crime and its notation by a state court, followed by a sentence of probation, is equivalent we think within the language of the Act to being convicted.
Iowa's expunction provisions did not nullify the conviction for purposes of a federal statute.
A rule that would give effect to expunction under varying state statutes would seriously hamper the effective enforcement of the Act.
Justice Rehnquist has filed a dissenting opinion and is joined therein by Justice Brennan, Justice Stevens, and Justice O'Connor.