Simmons v. West Haven Housing Authority

PETITIONER: Simmons
RESPONDENT: West Haven Housing Authority
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Central District of California

DOCKET NO.: 81
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 399 US 510 (1970)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1969
DECIDED: Jun 29, 1970

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Simmons v. West Haven Housing Authority

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1969 in Simmons v. West Haven Housing Authority

Warren E. Burger:

Today is number 81, Simmons against West Haven Housing Authority.

Francis X. Dineen:

Mr. Chief Justice --

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Dineen.

Francis X. Dineen:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

My name is Francis X. Dineen.

I represent the appellants in this matter.

Jurisdiction of this Court has invoked under 28 United States Code, Section 1257, Subsection 2 because of the fact that the constitutionality of a state statute as an issue.

And by the decision of the appellate division of the State of Connecticut, the constitutionality of that state statute has been upheld.

The Supreme Court of Connecticut denied our petition for certification and so the appeal to this Court is from the appellant's division of the Circuit Court.

The facts of this case involve a relatively ordinary eviction action which was commenced in July of 1967.

Thereafter, pleadings were filed and defenses were raised and in fact seven special defenses were raised to the eviction action that was brought.

In January of 1968, a trial took place.

On January 16, judgment was entered for the landlord, the Housing Authority of West Haven.

Thereafter on January 18, our appeal from that judgment was filed with the Appellate Division.

At that time, pursuant to Section 52-542 of the Connecticut General Statutes, it was required that we file with the court a bond with a surety to cover the rents that might accrue during the pendency of the appeal.

And in order to file that bond, on behalf of our clients, we went to several surety companies asking them what they would require to go on the bond as a surety.

The bond in this case because the rent was $72.00 per month would have been approximately something in the nature of $400.00 to $500.00 or even more dollars for this bond.

In fact, that case that we have cited in our brief, in which the rent was approximately the same as our rent, the trial court had ordered that a bond in the amount of $700.00 be filed in that particular case.

So that in any event, our bond would've been something in the nature of $500.00 to $700.00.

And this again, is to covered the rents that would accrue during the pendency of the appeal.

The surety companies that we approached asking that they own this bond with us, demanded full cash collateral before they would sign a bond as well as demanding their fee.

This was impossible for our clients to pay.

They were poor and they didn't have that kind of money.

So, we went to the trial court and by motion on our client's behalf to waive the surety bond.

We stated these facts to the trial court and asked that as an alternative in order to protect the landlord during the pendency of the appeal that we be allowed to pay the rent into the Court every month to be held by the Court in escrow.

And we also agreed that in the event that we should loss the appeal and ultimately if the Supreme Court of Connecticut heard it and lose there, but this body then will be turn over to the landlord.

We also agreed that if any one month we fail to pay that rent into the Court that the appeal could automatically be dismissed.

Now, we thought this was a fair alternative because the increase of the state has in protecting the landlord would be met entirely by this provision by this alternative that we offered if we pay the rent to the Court every month as it came due.

And if we fail any one month and our appeal would then be dismissed, the landlord would have all the protection that he would be entitled to.

Warren E. Burger:

Is it clear Mr. Dineen that the Court have the power by way of equity, discretion or some other source to waive the bond requirement and accept your alternative proposal?