LOCATION: Indiana State Employment Security Division
DOCKET NO.: 79-6027
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court
CITATION: 450 US 261 (1981)
ARGUED: Nov 04, 1980
DECIDED: Mar 04, 1981
Glenn Zell - on behalf of the Petitioners;
John W. Dunsmore, Jr. - on behalf of the Respondent
Facts of the case
Media for Wood v. GeorgiaAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 04, 1980 in Wood v. Georgia
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 04, 1981 in Wood v. Georgia
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:
The second case is here from the Georgia Court of Appeals.
The petitioners are three employees of an adult movie theater and bookstore who were convicted of distributing obscene materials.
They were low level employees, not proprietors or managers of the establishments.
Nevertheless they were sentenced to long periods of probation and subjected to heavy fines.
Their probations later were revoked when they were unable to pay the fines.
At that time, they were no longer employed.
Throughout the proceedings below, petitioners were represented by a lawyer hired and paid for by their former employer, the owner and operator of the theater and bookstore.
This employer had promised them to pay any fines that may be imposed as a result of their work for his establishments.
But he failed to do so.
We granted this case to decide whether revocation of probation with resulting imprisonment solely because of inability to pay fines violated the Equal Protection Clause.
Upon consideration of the case however, we concluded that the lawyer who had represented petitioners may have had a disqualifying conflict of interest.
If in fact there were such a conflict, petitioners may have been denied due process of law.
In view of this possibility we do not reach the equal protection issue rather we remand the case for the Georgia courts to determine whether in fact there was a disqualification of interest in this case.
Justice Stevens has filed a concurring opinion.
Justice Brennan has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justice Marshall has joined.
Justice Stewart also has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.
And Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.