Greenwood v. United States

PETITIONER: Greenwood
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION:

DOCKET NO.: 460
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

ARGUED: Jan 25, 1956
DECIDED: Mar 05, 1956

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Greenwood v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 25, 1956 (Part 1) in Greenwood v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 25, 1956 (Part 2) in Greenwood v. United States

William J. Burrell:

If it please the Court, the second -- the contention of the United States here as I understand it is that the finding that this man will probably endanger the safety of the officers and property or other interests of the United States.

And the finding, the suitable arrangements are not available elsewhere for him supports the right of the United States to imprison him or whatever is said about his care or treatment, he is being imprisoned and he is imprisoned side by side with prisoners and as just as much of a prisoner as if he was convicted and had been convicted of -- of a crime.

And I think that it is important that we consider him as an innocent man as we must consider it.

Now, what about this first condition that he will probably endanger the safety of the officers, property or other interests of the United States.

That's the only finding that was made here, what are those other interests, what gives the United States the power to come and take a citizen and confine him perhaps permanently on -- on a finding that he probably will endanger some other interests of the United States.

Think -- think of the dangerousness of such a statute in spite of the good motives of the United States or the authorities, I think, we have here a statute that by its terminology is an extremely dangerous statute.

Earl Warren:

Isn't that done in state statutes all the time?

William J. Burrell:

I don't know if that's just the terminology.

Earl Warren:

Well, I -- I know in one state at least, the -- the finding the Court must make is to the effect that the person is so mentally deranged that he is dangerous either to himself or to others or to his own property or to other -- others' property.

William J. Burrell:

Well, I'll --

Earl Warren:

And that constitutes a -- a valid holding of him and sometimes they -- they are held along with criminals too because some States only have one mental hospital and they keep both criminally insane and -- and the non-criminally insane in them.

But I'm just trying to find out what -- is -- is there any distinction between this situation and the ones I have mentioned.

William J. Burrell:

Well, I'll be frank.

I haven't made a study of state statutes except that I don't believe that this particular provision is as definite as the type of thing that which you have been referring.

To me, it's -- it's quite vague to say that someone will probably endanger, you don't have to find that he will endanger the officers of the United States or you don't have to find that he will endanger the -- the property, but even on a finding of some other interests without those other interest being defined, we can -- we can keep a man in prison and that's the point that I was trying to make.

Felix Frankfurter:

Then you had no problem that the States showed that, the State have -- the States have power.

They have the question of power and he would be driven deranged and --

William J. Burrell:

That's right.

Felix Frankfurter:

-- they have arrest him in public, then they have --

William J. Burrell:

That's right.

Felix Frankfurter:

(Inaudible)

William J. Burrell:

And their --

Felix Frankfurter:

But the Federal Government has the power just in regard to that.

William J. Burrell:

That is correct.

Felix Frankfurter:

As to this district, I suppose.

William J. Burrell:

That is correct.

Felix Frankfurter:

And there is a statute, I don't know its term, but it was a statute in this District whereby was on an acquittal, don't you think?

On acquittal you may be (Voice Overlap) --

(Inaudible)

Felix Frankfurter:

Pardon me?