391 U.S. 234 (1968), 71, Carafas v. LaVallee

Docket Nº:No. 71
Citation:391 U.S. 234, 88 S.Ct. 1556, 20 L.Ed.2d 554
Party Name:Carafas v. LaVallee
Case Date:May 20, 1968
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 234

391 U.S. 234 (1968)

88 S.Ct. 1556, 20 L.Ed.2d 554




No. 71

United States Supreme Court

May 20, 1968

Argued March 27, 1968




In 1960, petitioner was convicted in New York state criminal proceedings and his sentence was affirmed on appeal without opinion over his contention that illegally obtained evidence had been introduced against him at his trial. Renewing that claim, petitioner thereafter sought relief in the federal and state courts by writ of habeas corpus. The petition in the present case was filed in June, 1963, while petitioner was in custody. On November 5, 1965, the District Court, after a hearing on the merits ordered by the Court of Appeals, dismissed the petition. The District Court issued a certificate of probable cause. A notice of appeal was filed, and the petitioner made application in the Court of Appeals for an order allowing him to appeal in forma pauperis. The State opposed the application and moved to dismiss the appeal as without merit. Petitioner, replying, opposed the motion to dismiss and renewed his application for leave to appeal in forma pauperis. The Court of Appeals entered the following order with respect thereto: "Application for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. Application denied. Motion to dismiss appeal granted." On March 6, 1967, about two weeks after the Court of Appeals denied a rehearing, petitioner's sentence expired and he was released from custody. On March 20, 1967, petitioner filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in this Court, which was granted October 16, 1967. Respondent contends that expiration of petitioner's sentence has mooted the case and that, in any event, petitioner was not wrongfully denied a full appeal by the Court of Appeals after the District Court had granted a certificate of probable cause.


1. The case is not moot. Pp. 237-240.

(a) Because of the "disabilities or burdens [which] may flow from" petitioner's conviction, he has "a substantial stake in the judgment of conviction which survives the satisfaction of the sentence imposed on him." Fiswick v. United States, 329 U.S. 211, 222 (1946). Pp. 237-238.

(b) Under the federal habeas corpus statutory scheme, once federal jurisdiction has attached in the District Court, it is not

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defeated by petitioner's release before completion of the proceedings on the application. Though the federal habeas corpus statute requires that the applicant be "in custody" when the habeas corpus application is filed, the relief that may be granted is not limited to discharging the applicant from physical custody, the statute providing that "the court shall . . . dispose of the matter as law and justice require." 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Parker v. Ellis, 362 U.S. 574 (1960), overruled. Pp. 238-240.

2. Where a certificate of probable cause has been granted, the court of appeals must allow an appeal in forma pauperis (assuming a requisite showing of poverty), must consider the appeal on its merits, and must include in its order enough to demonstrate the basis for its action, as this Court held in Nowakowski v. Maroney, 386 U.S. 542. That case, though decided after the Court of Appeals' summary dismissal of petitioner's appeal, governs this case which had not been concluded at the time of that decision. Pp. 240-242.

Vacated and remanded.

FORTAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE FORTAS delivered the opinion of the Court

This case has a lengthy procedural history . In 1960, petitioner was convicted of burglary and grand larceny in New York state court proceedings and was sentenced to concurrent terms of three to five years. On direct appeal (following Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)), petitioner claimed that illegally obtained evidence had been introduced against him at trial. The Appellate Division affirmed the conviction without opinion, People v. Carafas, 14 App.Div.2d 886, 218 N.Y.S.2d 536 (1961), as did the New York Court of Appeals, 11 N.Y.2d 891, 182 N.E.2d

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413 (1962).1 This Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari. 372 U.S. 948 (1963).

Thereafter, complex proceedings took place in which petitioner sought in both federal and state courts to obtain relief by writ of habeas corpus, based on his claim that illegally seized evidence was used against him. 334 F.2d 331 (1964); petition for writ of certiorari denied, 381 U.S. 951 (1965). On November 5, 1965, the United States District Court, as directed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (334 F.2d 331 (1964)), heard petitioner's claim on the merits. It dismissed his petition on the ground that he had failed to show a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Petitioner appealed in circumstances hereinafter related. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed the appeal. On March 20, 1967, a petition for a writ of certiorari was filed here. We granted the petition, 389 U.S. 896 (1967), to consider whether, because of facts to which we later refer, the Court of Appeals' dismissal conformed to our holding in Nowakowski v. Maroney, 386 U.S. 542 (1967). But first we must consider the State's [88 S.Ct. 1559] contention that this case is now moot because petitioner has been unconditionally released from custody.

Petitioner applied to the United States District Court for a writ of habeas corpus in June 1963. He was in custody at that time. On March 6, 1967, petitioner's sentence...

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