LOCATION:United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
DOCKET NO.: 74-6593
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Florida Supreme Court
CITATION: 430 US 349 (1977)
ARGUED: Nov 30, 1976
DECIDED: Mar 22, 1977
Charles H. Livingston – for petitioner
Wallace E. Allbritton – for respondent
Media for Gardner v. Florida
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 22, 1977 in Gardner v. Florida
Warren E. Burger:
The judgment of the Court in No. 74-6593, Daniel Gardner against Florida and in 75-811, Swain against Pressley will be announced by Mr. Justice Stevens.
John Paul Stevens:
In Gardner against Florida, the petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder in the Circuit Court of Citrus County Florida and sentenced to death.
When the trial judge imposed the death sentence, he stated that he was relying in part on information in a presentence investigation report.
Portions of the report were not disclosed to counsel for the parties.
Without reviewing the confidential portion of the presentence report, the Supreme Court of Florida, over the dissent of two justices, affirmed the death sentence.
In an opinion which I have delivered to the clerk, which is joined by Mr. Justice Stewart and Mr. Justice Powell, we conclude that this procedure does not satisfy the constitutional command that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.
The Chief Justice while not joining our opinion, concurs in the judgment, vacating the death sentence and remanding the case to the Florida Supreme Court with directions to order further proceedings at the trial court level.
Mr. Justice Brennan has filed a separate opinion agreeing with the reasoning in our opinion, but stating that he would simply vacate the death sentence.
Mr. Justice White has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.
Mr. Justice Blackmun has also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.
Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion.
Mr. Justice Rehnquist has also filed a dissenting opinion.