404 U.S. 244 (1971), 70-77, North Carolina v. Rice

Docket Nº:No. 70-77
Citation:404 U.S. 244, 92 S.Ct. 402, 30 L.Ed.2d 413
Party Name:North Carolina v. Rice
Case Date:December 14, 1971
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 244

404 U.S. 244 (1971)

92 S.Ct. 402, 30 L.Ed.2d 413

North Carolina

v.

Rice

No. 70-77

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 14, 1971

Argued October 12, 1971

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondent was convicted in a General County Court in North Carolina of driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment and payment of a fine. On appeal, he was tried de novo in the Superior Court, found guilty, and given a two-year sentence. The District Court denied habeas corpus, and respondent, who by then had been completely discharged from prison, appealed to the Court of Appeals. That court, relying on North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, held that the case was not mooted by respondent's discharge, and that respondent was entitled to have the record of his conviction expunged.

Held: North Carolina v. Pearce, supra, does not require that respondent's conviction be invalidated, but only that he be resentenced if the higher sentence imposed after the de novo trial was vulnerable under Pearce. Since the present record deals with the mootness issue only from the standpoint of conviction vel non, and does not reveal whether, under state law, benefits accrue to respondent in having his sentence reduced after he has served it, the case is remanded for reconsideration of the mootness question.

434 F.2d 297, vacated and remanded.

Page 245

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

On July 2, 1968, respondent Rice was arrested for driving while intoxicated on a North Carolina state highway. He was tried in the General County Court of Buncombe County, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment for nine months with sentence suspended upon payment of $100 fine and costs. On appeal, he was tried de novo in the Superior Court, found guilty, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. State post-conviction procedures were unavailing. On appeal from denial of federal habeas corpus, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that, under North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711 (1969),

the more drastic sentence on the second trial [was] a denial of Federal due process, in that, [92 S.Ct. 404] by discouragement, it impinges upon the State-given appeal.

434 F.2d 297, 300 (1970). Although "[h]e was completely discharged by North Carolina on January 24, 1970 . . . , this did not moot the case on habeas corpus," because injurious consequences from the conviction might still obtain. Ibid. The judgment was that Rice was entitled to have the record of his conviction expunged. The State's petition for writ of certiorari was granted. 401 U.S. 1008 (1971).

The State claims that Pearce does not apply to a situation where the more severe sentence is imposed after a trial de novo in its Superior Court. We do not reach that question, however, since the threshold issue of mootness

Page 246

was improperly disposed of by the Court of Appeals. Although neither party has urged that this case is moot, resolution of the question is essential if federal courts are to function within their constitutional sphere of authority. Early in its history, this Court held that it had no power to issue advisory opinions, Hayburn's Case, 2 Dall. 409 (1792), as interpreted in Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 351-353 (1911), and it has frequently repeated that federal courts are without power to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants in the case before them. Oil Workers Unions v. Missouri, 361 U.S. 363, 367 (1960). To be cognizable in a federal court, a suit

must be definite and concrete, touching the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests. . . . It must be a real and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.

Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 240-241 (1937). However, "[m]oot questions require no answer." Missouri, Kansas & Texas R. Co. v. Ferris, 179 U.S. 602, 606 (1900). Mootness is a jurisdictional question, because the Court "is not empowered to decide moot questions or abstract...

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1339 practice notes
  • 139 B.R. 290 (D.N.J. 1992), 91-5701, In re Heldor Industries, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit District of New Jersey
    • April 21, 1992
    ...60 L.Ed.2d 735 (1979); County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 634, 99 S.Ct. 1379, 59 L.Ed.2d 642 (1979); North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 245, 92 S.Ct. 402, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 (1971); United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36, 37, 71 S.Ct. 104, 95 L.Ed. 36 (1950); United State......
  • 235 B.R. 173 (Bkrtcy.D.Mass. 1999), 97-45577, In re Melendez
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts First Circuit
    • June 25, 1999
    ...about particular actions, when no party is before the court who has suffered or imminently faces specific injury. North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246, 92 S.Ct. 402, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 It is also undisputed that Bankruptcy Courts have jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the Bankruptcy C......
  • 316 F.Supp.2d 568 (N.D.Ohio 2004), 102 CV 2037, Village of Grafton v. Rural Lorain County Water Authority
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit Northern District of Ohio
    • April 16, 2004
    ...(6th Cir. 2002) (case or controversy requirement prevented federal court from issuing advisory opinions) (quoting North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246, 92 S.Ct. 402, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 (1971) ("[F]ederal courts are without power to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of lit......
  • 417 F.Supp. 426 (E.D.Pa. 1976), Civ. A. 74-100, Danzy v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • August 4, 1976
    ...courts are without power to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants in the case before them. North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246, 92 S.Ct. 402, 404, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 (1971). The action will accordingly be dismissed for failure to present a live justiciable case or co......
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1331 cases
  • 139 B.R. 290 (D.N.J. 1992), 91-5701, In re Heldor Industries, Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit District of New Jersey
    • April 21, 1992
    ...60 L.Ed.2d 735 (1979); County of Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 634, 99 S.Ct. 1379, 59 L.Ed.2d 642 (1979); North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 245, 92 S.Ct. 402, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 (1971); United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36, 37, 71 S.Ct. 104, 95 L.Ed. 36 (1950); United State......
  • 235 B.R. 173 (Bkrtcy.D.Mass. 1999), 97-45577, In re Melendez
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts First Circuit
    • June 25, 1999
    ...about particular actions, when no party is before the court who has suffered or imminently faces specific injury. North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246, 92 S.Ct. 402, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 It is also undisputed that Bankruptcy Courts have jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the Bankruptcy C......
  • 316 F.Supp.2d 568 (N.D.Ohio 2004), 102 CV 2037, Village of Grafton v. Rural Lorain County Water Authority
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit Northern District of Ohio
    • April 16, 2004
    ...(6th Cir. 2002) (case or controversy requirement prevented federal court from issuing advisory opinions) (quoting North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246, 92 S.Ct. 402, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 (1971) ("[F]ederal courts are without power to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of lit......
  • 417 F.Supp. 426 (E.D.Pa. 1976), Civ. A. 74-100, Danzy v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • August 4, 1976
    ...courts are without power to decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants in the case before them. North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246, 92 S.Ct. 402, 404, 30 L.Ed.2d 413 (1971). The action will accordingly be dismissed for failure to present a live justiciable case or co......
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8 books & journal articles
  • ARE COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES DESERVED?
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 95 Nbr. 3, January 2020
    • January 1, 2020
    ...uniformly argued that CCs are punishment, and that the courts have erred in finding otherwise"). (62) See North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 247 n. 1 (1971) (per curiam) ("A convicted criminal may be disenfranchised, lose the right to hold federal or state office, be barred fro......
  • Lawrence v. Texas
    • United States
    • West's Encyclopedia of American Law Milestones in the Law
    • January 1, 2005
    ...and it will not "decide questions that cannot affect the rights of litigants in the case before [it]." North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246 (1971) (citations omitted). For example, in cases not involving expressive activity protected by the First Amendment, litigants have no ......
  • The new civil death: rethinking punishment in the era of mass conviction.
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 160 Nbr. 6, May 2012
    • May 1, 2012
    ...State has presumably deemed such ex-felons worthy of participating in civic life." (citation omitted)). (52) North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 247 n.1 (1971) (citations omitted). (53) See District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 626 (2008) (recognizing a fundamental Second Ame......
  • Jurisdictional procedure.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 54 Nbr. 1, October 2012
    • October 1, 2012
    ...(14.) McCulloch v. Sociedad Nacional de Marineros de Honduras, 372 U.S. 10, 16 (1963) (emphasis added); see also North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244,246 (15.) Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co., 554 U.S. 316, 324 (2008). (16.) For a discussion of the reasons that jur......
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