Olim v. Wakinekona

LOCATION:Residence of Gates

DOCKET NO.: 81-1581
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 461 US 238 (1983)
ARGUED: Jan 19, 1983
DECIDED: Apr 26, 1983

Michael A. Lilly – for petitioners
Robert Gilbert Johnston – for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Olim v. Wakinekona

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 19, 1983 in Olim v. Wakinekona

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 26, 1983 in Olim v. Wakinekona

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Olim against Wakinekona will be announced by Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

This case comes to us by way of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The petitioners are members of a “Program Committee” for the Hawaii State Prison.

They investigated a breakdown in discipline within the maximum controlled unit and singled out the respondent another inmate as troublemakers.

After a hearing at which the respondent retained counsel to represent him, the Committee recommended that he be continued to be classified as a maximum security risk and that he be transferred to a prison in California.

The administrator of the Hawaii prison accepted the Committee’s recommendation and the transfer was effectuated.

The respondent then filed this suit in federal court alleging that he had been denied procedural due process.

The Federal District Court dismissed the complaint.

It held that the applicable Hawaii regulations governing prison transfers did not create a substantive liberty interest that was protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court of Appeals however reversed.

In an opinion filed with the clerk today, we in turn reverse the judgment of the Ninth Circuit.

An interstate prison transfer does not deprive an inmate of any liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause in and of itself.

The inmate has no justifiable expectation that he will be incarcerated in any particular prison within a state.

And he also has no justifiable expectation that he will be incarcerated in a particular state.

Statutes and interstate agreements recognize that it is often necessary to transfer inmates to prisons in other states.

Confinement in another state is within the normal limits or range of custody which the conviction has authorized the transferring state to impose.

And this is so even though the transfer as in this case involves a long distance and an ocean crossing.

And thus the confinement remains within constitutional limits.

We also hold that Hawaii’s prison regulations do not create a constitutionally protected liberty interest.

Those regulations place no substantive limitations on the prison administrator’s discretion to transfer.

Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion and is joined therein by Justice Brennan and Justice Stevens joins Part I of Justice Marshall’s dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Blackmun.