Hicks v. District of Columbia

RESPONDENT: District of Columbia
LOCATION: Congress

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 383 US 252 (1966)
ARGUED: Oct 21, 1965
DECIDED: Feb 28, 1966

Facts of the case


Media for Hicks v. District of Columbia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 21, 1965 in Hicks v. District of Columbia

Earl Warren:

-- J. Hicks, Petitioner versus District of Columbia.

Mr. Speiser.

Lawrence Speiser:

I move the admission of Charles Wolfram of the District of Columbia Bar of Ohio -- in order to argue this case for the appellant.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Wolfram maybe admitted for that purpose.

Mr. Wolfram, you may proceed with the argument.

Charles W. Wolfram:

May it please the Court.

On June 12, 1963, petitioner Eddie J. Hicks was convicted in the Court of General Sessions, Criminal Division of the District of Columbia of the crime of vagrancy.

The particular subsection of the District of Columbia vagrancy statute on which he was convicted provides that a vagrant is one who is leading an immoral or profligate life.

At his trial and at every step in the appellant procedure, petitioners contented that the words leading an immoral or profligate life are unconstitutionally vague.

He made this argument first in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the local Court of Appeals and this court in a decision affirmed the judgment and rejected the constitutional argument.

As required by the District of Columbia code petitioner next applied to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking a petition for allowance of an appeal to that court.

The three-judge division of that court appointed to sit on the petition, denied the petition by a vote of two-to-one.

Petitioner next petitioned the court en banc for petition for allowance of an appeal.

The entire court, voting three-to-six, denied the petition for reconsideration on en banc.

Subsequently, petitioner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in this Court and it was granted in February of this year.

There's only one substantial question presented in this proceeding as there's been only one substantial question presented anywhere in it, whether subsection 3 of the vagrancy statute is unconstitutionally vague and indifferent -- indefinite.

On --

You are going to argue the point of jurisdiction?

Charles W. Wolfram:

Yes I am, Mr. Justice Harlan.

I don't think that the government's memorandum suggesting mootness requires any argument.

Personally, if there's argument request, of course I'll address myself to it.

On this petition for certiorari, three questions have been raised which go the jurisdiction of the Court or the discretion of the Court to hear the case.

The first one involves the timeliness of the petition for certiorari.

The District of Columbia has attempted to show that since the petition was not filed within the 30 days called for by Rule 22, paragraph 2 of the Rule of this Court, this Court does not possess the power to hear the case.

This is clearly wrong.

Haplin versus the United States cited in our reply brief quite clearly demonstrates that the rules of this Court can be waived by the Court in an appropriate case.

There is no jurisdictional statute involved.

No Acts of Congress provides the time within which a criminal case from the United States Court of Appeals is to be brought to the Supreme Court.

Rule 22, paragraph 2 is the only provision setting out the time limitation.

I took, by the grant of certiorari, that this question had been considered by the Court and that the Court have decided in its discretion to waive the requirements of Rule 22 because of the unusual circumstances presented in the petition and in the record.