McCarthy v. Bronson

LOCATION:Residence of Daniel and Lyrissa Touby

DOCKET NO.: 90-5635
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 500 US 136 (1991)
ARGUED: Mar 25, 1991
DECIDED: May 20, 1991

Christopher D. Cerf – on behalf of the Petitioner
Richard Blumenthal – on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for McCarthy v. Bronson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – March 25, 1991 in McCarthy v. Bronson

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – May 20, 1991 in McCarthy v. Bronson

John Paul Stevens:

The second case I have to announce is McCarthy against Bronson.

The petitioner in this case is a prisoner who brought suit against various state prison officials alleging that they violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force when transferring him from one cell to another.

Over petitioner’s objection, the case was referred to a magistrate to conduct an evidentiary hearing and prepare proposed findings effect and conclusions of law.

A federal statute authorizes the nonconsensual referral to a magistrate of prisoner petitions challenging conditions of confinement.

Thus, the question is whether an allegation of a single episode of unconstitutional conduct by prison officials is covered by that language, or whether the language instead includes only challenges to ongoing prison conditions.

The District Court and the Court of Appeals both held that both types of cases may be referred to a magistrate.

In a unanimous opinion filed with the Clerk today, we agree with that interpretation of the statute and thus, affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.