Juidice v. Vail

LOCATION: North Carolina Board of Agriculture

DOCKET NO.: 75-1397
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)

CITATION: 430 US 327 (1977)
ARGUED: Nov 30, 1976
DECIDED: Mar 22, 1977

A. Seth Greenwald - for appellants
Jane E. Bloom - for appellees

Facts of the case


Media for Juidice v. Vail

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 30, 1976 in Juidice v. Vail

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 22, 1977 in Juidice v. Vail

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 75-1397, Juidice against Vail will be announced by Mr. Justice Rehnquist.

William H. Rehnquist:

Appellees in this case are New York judgment debtors.

When they failed to pay the judgments, their creditors subpoenaed them to appear for supplemental proceedings.

The notices informed the debtors that failure to comply was punishable by contempt of court.

When the appellees did not comply with these notices, the appellants who are state judges in New York, issued orders requiring them to appear in court to show cause why they should not be held in contempt.

Appellees again failed to comply.

Appellees were then held in contempt in order to pay fines.

When they failed to pay the fines, the appellant judges issued ex parte commitment orders and the debtors were jailed.

At this point, the debtors brought suit in the United States District Court seeking to enjoin the statutory contempt procedures used by New York on the grounds that the procedures used leading to imprisonment for contempt of court violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

The three-judge district court, after deciding that it should not abstain, declared the challenge sections of the New York judiciary law to be unconstitutional and enjoined their enforcement.

For the reasons given and an opinion filed today with the clerk, we reversed the judgment of the District Court.

We hold that because of the availability of the pending stay judicial proceedings in which the constitutional issues could have been raised, it was error for the Federal Court to enjoin the enforcement of these state statutes.

We conclude that the principles of comity and federalism discussed in our decisions in Younger against Harris, and Huffman versus Pursue, are applicable to constitutional challenges to state contempt procedures.

The State's interest in the contempt process through which it vindicates the regular operation of its judicial system has an important interest.

The District Court was wrong in deciding that Younger and Huffman were not applicable when these procedures were challenged and its judgment is accordingly reversed.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed an opinion concurring and the result.

Mr. Justice Brennan joined by Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion.

Mr. Justice Stewart has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Rehnquist.