Stafford v. Briggs

PETITIONER: William H. Stafford, Jr., et al.
RESPONDENT: John Briggs, et al.
LOCATION: United States District Court for the District of Columbia

DOCKET NO.: 77-1546
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 444 US 527 (1980)
REARGUED: Nov 07, 1979
DECIDED: Feb 20, 1980
ARGUED: Apr 24, 1979
GRANTED: Jan 15, 1979

ADVOCATES:
Doris Peterson - on behalf of the respondents
Earl H. Nemser - on behalf of the petitioners
Elinor Hadley Stillman - on behalf of the petitioners
Melvin L. Wulf - on behalf of the respondents
Peter Megaree Brown - on behalf of the petitioners

Facts of the case

These are two consolidated cases. For 77-1546, in 1972, U. S. Attorney William Stafford, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Stuart Carrouth, and Department of Justice Attorney Guy Goodwin conducted a grand jury investigation into a conspiracy to cause a riot in Florida. Respondents were among the group subpoenaed to appear and testify. During the course of the proceedings, Goodwin stated under oath that there were no government agents in the witness lineup called by respondents’ counsel. Respondents later sued Stafford, Carrouth, Goodwin, and FBI Agent Claude Meadow in their individual and official capacities for falsely testifying and conspiring to deprive the respondents of statutory rights. Respondents sued in the District Court for the District of Columbia, where Goodwin resided. The petitioners requested a transfer to the Northern District of Florida or a dismissal based on improper venue. The district court denied the motion to transfer but granted the motion to dismiss. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed and held that the venue was proper because Goodwin was a resident of the District of Columbia.

For 78-393, from 1953 until 1973, CIA agents regularly opened and photocopied mail going through the International Airport in New York to and from the Soviet Union. In 1975, respondents sued on their behalf and on the behalf of others whose mail had been opened by the CIA. Respondents sued in the district court of Rhode Island and alleged that the interference with their mail constituted a violation of their constitutional rights. Petitioners moved to dismiss due to lack of personal jurisdiction, improper venue, and insufficient service of process. The district court denied these motions but certified the case for an immediate appeal. The U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the denial of the motions as they relate to petitioners employed by the CIA at the time of filing, but reversed as to the officials who had left their government positions at the time of filing. The Court of Appeals held that the venue was proper because one of the petitioners resided in Rhode Island.

Question

Do the venue provisions in Section 2 of the Mandamus and Venue Act of 1962 apply to officers of the federal government acting in their individual capacities?

Media for Stafford v. Briggs

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - November 07, 1979 in Stafford v. Briggs
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 24, 1979 in Stafford v. Briggs

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 20, 1980 in Stafford v. Briggs

Warren E. Burger:

I have the disposition to announce in two related cases, Stafford, United States Attorney against Briggs, and Colby, the Director of the CIA against Driver.

The first case coming from the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia and the second from the First Circuit for reasons stated in an opinion the Court filed today, the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the first case and the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in the second are reversed.

And the cases are remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion filed today.

Mr. Justice White took no part in the consideration or decision of the case of either of these cases.

Mr. Justice Marshall took no part in the decision of either of these cases.

And Mr. Justice Stewart filed a dissent.

Potter Stewart:

Which Mr. Justice Brennan joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Joined by Mr. Justice Brennan.