Lane v. Williams

LOCATION: Furnace Woods School

DOCKET NO.: 80-1240
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 455 US 624 (1982)
ARGUED: Dec 01, 1981
DECIDED: Mar 23, 1982

Martha A. Mills - on behalf of the Respondents
Michael B. Weinstein - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Lane v. Williams

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 01, 1981 in Lane v. Williams

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 23, 1982 in Lane v. Williams

John Paul Stevens:

The second case that I have to announce is Lane against Williams and Southall, it's a case that comes to us from the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

We granted certiorari to consider whether when a state law provides for a mandatory parole term at the end of a prisoner's period of incarceration.

And when the trial judge accepts a plea of guilty without informing the defendant that that is a part of the sentence that will be imposed, that is the mandatory parole term, has there been a violation of due process for which the prisoner may obtain habeas corpus relief.

After studying the case, we've concluded that we may not reach the issue because the case has become moot.

Because in such a situation, even if one assumes that a violation of due process occurs, the prisoner has two different forms of relief which he might seek.

On the one hand, they might seek to set aside his conviction on the guilty plea or alternatively he might seek to strike from sentence that portion which was allegedly unconstitutional namely the parole term.

In this case, the two prisoners chose the latter form of relief.

They did not seek to attack the basic conviction.

They merely sought to set aside the mandatory parole term and they did that after they had been found guilty of parole violations and had the -- when it became important to them that the parole term be set aside.

But by the time the case was decided, they had already served the full period of incarceration resulting from their parole violations and therefore there's not remaining life controversy before the Court as we analyzed the issues that the mere fact that their records contained a parole violation is not sufficient to justify habeas corpus relief.

And therefore, we have directed the Court of Appeals to dismiss the proceedings as having become moot.

In this case, Justice Marshall has filed a dissent in which Justice Brennan has joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice Stevens.