Smith v. Barry

RESPONDENT:Barry et al.
LOCATION:Nathan Bishop Middle School

DOCKET NO.: 90-7477
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 502 US 244 (1992)
ARGUED: Dec 02, 1991
DECIDED: Jan 14, 1992

David H. Bamberger – on behalf of the Respondents
Steven H. Goldblatt – on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Smith v. Barry

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 02, 1991 in Smith v. Barry

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – January 14, 1992 in Smith v. Barry

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 90-7477, Smith against Barry will be announced by Justice O’Connor.

Sandra Day O’Connor:

This case comes to us on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

While a state prison inmate, the petitioner, William Smith, brought suit against the prison officials and three doctors under Section 1983 of the United States Code alleging violations of his Eighth Amendment rights.

A federal jury found in favor of Smith on one of his claims and awarded him damages.

Smith filed a notice of appeal from the Trial Court’s judgment.

The notice was filed prematurely and was ineffective.

Nevertheless, the Clerk of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sent Smith a copy of the informal briefing form that is used in that Circuit for pro se appeals.

Smith filled out this form and returned it to the Court of Appeals within the time allowed by the federal rules for filing a notice of appeal.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Smith’s appeal reasoning that an appellate brief can never substitute for the notice of appeal required by Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

We hold today that a document filed within the time specified by the Federal Rules and given the notice required by the rules is effective as a notice of appeal.

Accordingly, the decision below is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings including a determination of whether the brief filed in this case gave the notice required by the rules.

Justice Scalia has filed a separate opinion concurring in the judgement.