Greene v. Lindsey

LOCATION: Furnace Woods School

DOCKET NO.: 81-341
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 456 US 444 (1982)
ARGUED: Feb 23, 1982
DECIDED: May 17, 1982

Robert Frederick Smith - on behalf of the Appellees
William L. Hoge, III - on behalf of the Appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Greene v. Lindsey

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 23, 1982 in Greene v. Lindsey

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Greene against Lindsey.

Mr. Hoge, I think you may proceed whenever you're ready.

William L. Hoge, III:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The single issue presented is the constitutionality of the Kentucky conspicuous posting of notice in landlord and tenants cases.

An alternative statement of the problem addressed is whether or not alternative constructive posting service continues to be satisfactory notice under the due process clause, unless shored up with additional mailing.

The facts of this case should be addressed in two parts.

Number one, what in fact is the landlord and tenant or forcible eviction procedure in Kentucky; and number two, as concerns the specific plaintiffs in this case.

I would point out that I believe the facts of the case speak very strongly about notice in the legislative scheme that is set up.

First, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing that the tenant is in breach of the lease for failure to make his rent payments.

That writing is by registered or certified mail.

The tenant is on notice.

The second fact of the legislative scheme is that the written notice is defined under the statutes quite clearly, and only after that notice is sent as a condition precedent to the bringing of a Writ of Forcible Entry are you allowed to seek such an instrument, and in fact, the forcible writ cannot be sought until seven days after this notice is sent.

You then file in our lower court for a forcible writ.

This writ is subsequently served under the statute, which is the issue of this case, 454.030.

It is served one of three ways.

It's served by actually serving the tenant, if you can find the tenant.

Secondly, by leaving a copy of it with a 16-year old or better who would understand the action.

And only thirdly by mailing, as we call it, only thirdly by posting the Writ of Eviction.


Mr. Hoge, I see the statute says... as to what you describe as the second method of service... that the process server may explain and leave a copy of the notice.

Have the Kentucky courts construed the phrase "may explain"?

What does that mean?

William L. Hoge, III:

--No, sir, I do not believe they have construed that.

Nor, in fact, is this... has that particular section ever been tested at all, to my understanding.

After it is posted, should that be the method... and, of course, that would be the only issue that would concern this Court today... then another period of time, seven days, at least three days, must expire.

However, the record speaks clearly in this matter that there is at least two weeks or so after that finding before another writ, the Writ of Possession, is issued, and then another period of three days goes by prior to any literal set-out.

Now, I think the facts of this complaint tell the Court a great deal about the truth of service by posting in this case.

Number one, all three plaintiffs did not pay their rent.

There is no tenant in this case whatsoever that alleges that they paid their rent.

Nor was the class so defined.