Schall v. Martin

PETITIONER: Ellen Schall, Commissioner of New York City Department of Juvenile Justice
RESPONDENT: Gregory Martin, et al.
LOCATION: Spofford Juvenile Center

DOCKET NO.: 82-1248
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 467 US 253 (1984)
ARGUED: Jan 17, 1984
DECIDED: Jun 04, 1984
GRANTED: Apr 18, 1983

Judith A. Gordon - on behalf of the Appellant
Martin Guggenheim - on behalf of the Appellees

Facts of the case

In 1977, fourteen-year-old Gregory Martin was arrested for first-degree robbery, second-degree assault, and criminal possession of a weapon. While detained, Martin lied to the police about his address. He was held overnight. At his initial appearance in court, the prosecution cited the gun, the lie about his address, and his evident lack of supervision as reasons why he should remain in detention until his fact-finding hearing. The court granted the detention under the New York Family Court Act (FCA). Fellow appellees Luis Rosario and Kenneth Morgan were also detained prior to their fact-finding hearings. Both were fourteen at the time, and had other delinquency petitions pending when they appeared before the court. While held in pretrial detention, Martin began a habeas corpus class action, which Rosario, Morgan, and 31 others joined, against the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. Martin argued that the pretrial detention amounted to punishment before a determination of guilt.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found that the pretrial detention was a violation of habeas corpus. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision and determined that the FCA was unconstitutional because it allowed detention of juveniles to serve as a punishment before the trial occurred.


Is the pretrial detention of a juvenile delinquent a violation of the right to Due Process as guaranteed in the Fourteenth Amendment if there is a “serious risk” that the juvenile will “commit an act which if committed by an adult would constitute a crime”?

Media for Schall v. Martin

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 17, 1984 in Schall v. Martin

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Schall against Martin and the consolidated case.

Mrs. Gordon, I think you may proceed when you are ready.

Judith A. Gordon:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

The principal question presented is whether a New York State Family Court judge violates the due process clause when he detains an accused juvenile delinquent after he has conducted a detention hearing and after he has found, based on facts and reasons elicited at that hearing that there is a serious risk that the juvenile, if released, will commit a pre-trial crime.

When the judge acts in this premise, he relies on specific statutory authority, namely, Section 320.5(3)(b) of New York's Family Court Act, which is the statute involved in this appeal.

The appeal is from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and it arises in the proceedings brought by detained juveniles for a class writ of habeas corpus and for a declaratory judgment.

I will address Section 320.5(3)(b) and related provisions of Article 3 initially and I do so both to inform the Court about the procedural constraints that New York imposes on the judicial decision to detain an accused delinquent prior to trial and to rebut at the same time several alleged deficiencies in this procedures which were assigned to it in the opinions below and are noted by Appellees.

I will then turn to Appellees' two principal arguments under Mathews versus Eldridge, namely, that some crimes must be excluded from Section 320.5(3)(b) and that some guidelines for judicial decision making must be added so that the statute would survive scrutiny under the due process clause--

Warren E. Burger:

What are the conditions on which an adult offender, given all the same factors, could be detained before a trial?

Judith A. Gordon:

--In New York, Your Honor?

Warren E. Burger:

Yes, in New York.

Judith A. Gordon:

In New York... New York provides bail for adults and does not have a preventive detention statute.

It has been noted, however, that New York's bail law generally does take at least some account of future crime in the community if that is your point.

Of course Your Honor is aware that the District of Columbia itself does have a preventive detention statute which was cert denied in United States versus Edwards.

I believe it was the term before last.

And, we suggest... we contend... that our statute is identical in all material respects to Edwards and, accordingly, would pass muster in the same manner.

Appellees do make one other argument other than their Mathews argument and that is that pre-trial detention to prevent crime as distinguished from pre-trial detention to assure appearance at trial is constitutional punishment and we have addressed that argument in our reply brief at pages 1 through 11.

Turning to the--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

In your view what constitutional limits are there on a state's authority to detain people who are not accused of any crime to prevent them from committing future crimes?

Judith A. Gordon:

--People who are accused of a crime to prevent them from committing a crime?

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Who are not.

Can you detain somebody if they are not?

Judith A. Gordon:

No, Your Honor, you cannot detain somebody that has not been accused of a crime--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

All right.

And, if they have been accused of a crime, what constitutional limits are there in your view?

Judith A. Gordon:

--We would suggest, Your Honor, that there are two separate constitutional limits.

One is quite important and one you have heard a great deal about today and that the Fourth Amendment and probable cause.

That is not quite... Well, probable cause is noted by Appellees in the course of their discussion.

They have not really made a separate Fourth Amendment challenge.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Do you think that is a requirement, probable cause?