Dyson v. Stein

PETITIONER: Dyson et al.
LOCATION: Ohio State Bar Association

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)

CITATION: 401 US 200 (1971)
ARGUED: Apr 30, 1970
REARGUED: Nov 16, 1970
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1971

Facts of the case


Media for Dyson v. Stein

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - November 16, 1970 in Dyson v. Stein

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 30, 1970 in Dyson v. Stein

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments in number 565, Dyson against Stein.

Mr. Zwiener, you may proceed as soon as you're ready.

Lonny F. Zwiener:

Thank you Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is case is a direct appeal from a decision of a three-judge court holding the Texas obscenity statute unconstitutional.

The case arose in Dallas, Texas when the police officers under search warrants seized -- made seizures under a search warrant of a publication entitled “Dallas Notes.”

It was a newspaper published every two weeks.

The officers had obtained an opinion of Assistant District Attorney that it was obscene.

They applied for a search warrant.

They did make a seizure.

Subsequently, they went back again and made a seizure of the Dallas Notes and other items.

I think we have about 3 --15, three-judge courts in Texas pending dealing with the obscenity statute.

Warren E. Burger:

How many?

Lonny F. Zwiener:

About 15, I think at last count and I really would like the facts of any of those other cases.

I would trade them for the facts of this case, but my purpose here is not either to condemn the Dallas police or to really defend their conduct because the order that’s appealed here is not a civil rights type of order.

I mean a Title 42 situation where lawless conduct was alleged proved and found to be present.

This appeal comes because the court below found that the Texas obscenity statute was unconstitutional.

Now, I would like it -- just as the beginning to comment on the impropriety of issuing the injunction here and in lieu over into the --

William O. Douglas:

Was this a case of selling or was this a case of possession or what?

Lonny F. Zwiener:

It was a newspaper that was sold and distributed.

William O. Douglas:

I know, the charge it was the charged possession or --

Lonny F. Zwiener:

A charge was possession at the time --

William O. Douglas:

Not selling?

Lonny F. Zwiener:

That's true, sir.

William O. Douglas:


Lonny F. Zwiener:

Stanley had not been handed down at that time the Texas statute afforded to cover both distribution and possession.

William O. Douglas:

Well, was this naked possession or possession of a purpose of the sale?

Lonny F. Zwiener:

It was naked possession I will refer it.

Warren E. Burger:

Now, not with either the purpose or the intent that neither was alleged?

Lonny F. Zwiener:

No, Your Honor.