McNeil v. Director, Patuxent Institution

RESPONDENT: Director, Patuxent Institution
LOCATION: McDonnell Douglas Corporation Factory

DOCKET NO.: 71-5144
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: State trial court

CITATION: 407 US 245 (1972)
ARGUED: Apr 20, 1972
DECIDED: Jun 19, 1972

E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr. - for petitioner
Henry R. Lord - for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for McNeil v. Director, Patuxent Institution

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 20, 1972 in McNeil v. Director, Patuxent Institution

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in number 71-5144, McNeil against Patuxent.

Mr. Prettyman we are going to let you gentleman finish your case now before we take lunch.

You may go right through.

E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice may it please the Court.

I am Barrett Prettyman and I represent the petitioner Edward McNeil in this case which is here on certiorari to the Maryland Court of Special Appeal.

Mr. McNeil is an inmate at Patuxent institution.

He is been there almost six years.

His minimum sentence for the crime of which he was convicted expired over four years ago.

His maximum sentence for this crime expired almost a year ago and yet he is never had a hearing on his incarceration at Patuxent.

He is never been declared a defective delinquent.

Mr. McNeil was 19 when he was convicted in Baltimore with an assault on a police officer and of an assault with intent to rape.

At his trial there was no plea and no evidence of insanity.

The issue was never raised anywhere.

He had no prior conviction and the time of his offense he was a graduate of a high school, he was employed, he was living with his parents and contributing to their means.

At the conclusion of the trial, after his conviction, the Court said as follows.

“While the Court records do not reflect a conviction on any previous charge, I feel from what I know about this young man that a psychiatric report is indicated.

The matter will be held sub curia and referred to the medical department, that would be the medical department of the Baltimore bench, for a psychiatric evaluation.

Warren E. Burger:

Do we have any way of knowing Mr. Prettyman whether some of that information the judge was acting on came out of the so called probation report, the pre-sentence report?

E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr.:

We do not know.

I would guess that the probation report was not available at that time, but rather was available at the subsequent sentencing which occurred later, but there is no way of knowing.

There was an off the record conference at the bench after the conclusion of the trial and before the judge made that announcement we had no idea what occurred then what information he received.

He did say however that he -- that there was no prior conviction.

Warren E. Burger:

Would you -- would it be reasonable to assume that had he cooperated with the psychiatric people at Patuxent, that this determination could have been made on the ordinary course?

E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr.:

You mean after he reached Patuxent?

Warren E. Burger:


E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr.:

And then if he had cooperated, they could have discovered whether he was a defective delinquent.

I think that they could have discovered either way that he was or was not.

I think they could have discovered that six years ago without talking to him; probably, possibly, we do not know.

Thurgood Marshall:

Mr. Prettyman what -- didn't they examine him in Baltimore?

E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr.:

Yes, I was about to say.