Peyton v. Rowe

LOCATION: United States District Court of Maryland

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 391 US 54 (1968)
ARGUED: Mar 27, 1968
DECIDED: May 20, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for Peyton v. Rowe

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 27, 1968 in Peyton v. Rowe

Earl Warren:

Number 802 C.C.Peyton, Superintendent of the Virginia State Penitentiary, Petitioner versus Robert Elmer Rowe et al.

Mr. Harp you may proceed.

Reno S. Harp, III:

Mr. Chief Justice may it please the Court.

The facts in these two cases are relatively simple and are identical.

In both cases, the prisoners are State prisoners.

In both cases they are not attacking the sentences which they are now serving.

In both cases they are attacking sentences to be served in the future.

In both cases the petitions presented prima facie cases upon which they would be entitled to a hearing if they we're serving the sentence of which they complain.

We contend however, that the decision of the United States Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit, in these cases is incorrect and wrong.

Because the Fourth Circuit held “That a prisoner -- a state prisoner in a federal court is entitled to attack a sentence to be served in the future” Now less there be no confusion about our position in this matter.

We agree wholeheartedly with the tenure and spirit of the decision but we object to it on a legal -- purely legal basis.

For a little history of the matter, I would call the Court's attention to the fact, as stated in our briefing that two years ago, Governor Godwin asked the Virginia Advisor for Legislative Counsel, which is composed of members of our general assembly.

To study the problems that tenant to the ever increasing number of Habeas corpus cases being filed and to try come up with some suggested statutory amendments to help us -- help the courts in handling this increase load.

I served as a member of the subcommittee and of acting committee of the VALC and connect with the study.

And prior to the argument in Rowe and Thacker in the Fourth Circuit, the VALC had already decided to recommend a legislation which was subsequently passed by this session of the general assembly.

And although it has not yet been signed into law, I have every reason to believe that it will in due course in a manner prescribed by law.

And in the appendix to our reply brief, you will find at the provisions of 8-596 of the Code of Virginia, is now amended which will go into effect on the first moment of June 28 of this year.

Now provide specifically “That a prisoner may attack a sentence in the câmara of the Virginia.

A State prisoner may attack a sentence to be served in the future even though he is not attacking the validity of present detention.”

So the Virginia General Assembly has seen to—had has felt that the Rowe and Thacker rule is appropriate.

The Fourth Circuit's decision in Rowe and Thacker --

Earl Warren:

Both Houses passed the Bill?

Reno S. Harp, III:


Earl Warren:

Did both Houses passed the Bill?

Reno S. Harp, III:

Yes sir, the General Assembly of Virginia has adjourned sir.

Both houses have adjourned the constructive session will be.

I believe on the 29th at which time the speaker of the house and the President of the Senate will sign all the Bills that were passed there at the end, and then they will all go to Governor Godwin for his signature, so all the enrolled Bills have been prepared.

Appendix is taking from the enrolled Bill so that it as it was passed Mr. Chief Justice.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

May I ask which one of the provisions that is --

Reno S. Harp, III:

Yes sir.