O'Shea v. Littleton

PETITIONER: O'Shea
RESPONDENT: Littleton
LOCATION: Belle Terre, NY

DOCKET NO.: 72-953
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 414 US 488 (1974)
ARGUED: Oct 17, 1973
DECIDED: Jan 15, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Alan M. Wiseman - for respondents
Robert J. O’rourke -

Facts of the case

Question

Media for O'Shea v. Littleton

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 17, 1973 in O'Shea v. Littleton

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 15, 1974 in O'Shea v. Littleton

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinions of the Court in number 72-953, O’shea against Littleton, and 72-955, Spomer against Littleton will be announced by Mr. Justice White.

Byron R. White:

These cases were begun in the District Court under a single complaint claiming jurisdiction under Title 42, Section 1983.

In number 72-953, the O’shea case, relief was sought against the alleged racially discriminatory practices of two local state judges in the course of exercising the criminal jurisdiction in first event.

In 72-955, with Spomer case, relief was sought against the alleged racially discriminatory practices of the local county prosecutor.

The District Court dismissed the complaint from one of jurisdiction to grant the injunctive relief sought.

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the District Court had jurisdiction, that the defendants were not immune from suit, and that injunctive relief, properly conceived, was an available remedy if the allegations of the complaint were proved.

We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals in the O’shea case.

The complaint did not adequately allege a case of controversy within the jurisdictions of the District Court, nor did it allege the rudiments of the case for injunctive relief.

In the Spomer case, it appears that after the judgment of the Court of Appeals was filed, the prosecuting attorney named in the complaint was succeeded by another as a result of the 1972 elections.

We accordingly vacate the judgment and remand the case to the Court of Appeals to determine in the light of this fact whether there’s still a live controversy in this case.

In the O’shea case, Mr. Justice Blackmun has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment and in part one of the court’s opinion.

Mr. Justice Douglas has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Brennan and Marshall have joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice White.