461 U.S. 352 (1983), 81-1320, Kolender v. Lawson

Docket Nº:No. 81-1320.
Citation:461 U.S. 352, 103 S.Ct. 1855, 75 L.Ed.2d 903
Party Name:William KOLENDER, et al., Petitioner, v. Edward LAWSON.
Case Date:May 02, 1983
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 352

461 U.S. 352 (1983)

103 S.Ct. 1855, 75 L.Ed.2d 903

William KOLENDER, et al., Petitioner,

v.

Edward LAWSON.

No. 81-1320.

United States Supreme Court.

May 2, 1983

Argued Nov. 8, 1982.

Individual who had been arrested and convicted for violating a California statute requiring persons who loiter or wander on the streets to provide a "credible and reliable" identification and to account for their presence when requested by a police officer, brought suit for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the statute's constitutionality. The District Court held the statute unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 658 F.2d 1362, affirmed and California officials appealed. The Supreme Court, Justice O'Connor, held that the statute was unconstitutionally vague by failing to clarify what was contemplated by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification.

Affirmed.

Justice Brennan filed a concurring opinion.

Justice White filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Rehnquist joined.

[103 S.Ct. 1855] Syllabus[*]

SYLLABUS

A California statute requires persons who loiter or wander on the streets to provide a "credible and reliable" identification and to account for their presence when requested by a peace officer. The California Court of Appeal has construed the statute to require a person to provide such identification when requested by a police officer who has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity sufficient to justify a stop under the standards of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889. The California court has defined "credible and reliable" identification as "carrying reasonable assurance that the identification is authentic and providing means for later getting in touch with the person who has identified himself." Appellee, who had been arrested and convicted under the statute, brought an action in Federal District Court challenging the statute's constitutionality. The District Court held the statute unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

[103 S.Ct. 1856] Held: The statute, as drafted and as construed by the state court, is unconstitutionally vague on its face within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to clarify what is contemplated by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification. As such, the statute vests virtually complete discretion in the hands of the police to determine whether the suspect has satisfied the statute and must be permitted to go on his way in the absence of probable cause to arrest. Pp. 1857-1860.

658 F.2d 1362 (9th Cir. 1981), affirmed and remanded.

COUNSEL

A. Wells Petersen, Deputy Attorney General of California, argued the cause for appellants. With him on the briefs were George Deukmejian, Attorney General,Robert H. Philibosian, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Daniel J.

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Kremer, Assistant Attorney General, and Jay M. Bloom, Deputy Attorney General.

Mark D. Rosenbaum, by invitation of the Court, 459 U.S. 964, argued the cause as amicus curiae in support of the judgment below. With him on the brief were Dennis M. Perluss, Fred Okrand, Mary Ellen Gale, Robert H. Lynn, andCharles S. Sims.*

* Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed by William L. Cahalan, Edward Reilly Wilson, and Timothy A. Baughman for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office; and by Wayne W. Schmidt, James P. Manak, and Fred E. Inbau for Americans for Effective Law Enforcement, Inc., et al.

Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed by Eugene G. Iredale for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice; and by Michael Ratner for the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Briefs of amici curiae were filed by John K. Van de Kamp, Harry B. Sondheim, and John W. Messer for the Appellate Committee of the California District Attorneys Association; by Dan Stormer, John Huerta, and Peter Schey for the National Lawyers Guild et al.; and by Quin Denvir and William Blum for the State Public Defender of California.

A. Wells Petersen, San Diego, Cal., for appellants.

Mark D. Rosenbaum, Los Angeles, Cal., as amicus curiae in support of the judgment below by special leave of Court.

OPINION

Justice O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

This appeal presents a facial challenge to a criminal statute that requires persons who loiter or wander on the streets to provide a "credible and reliable" identification and to account for their presence when requested by a peace officer under circumstances that would justify a stop under the standards of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). 1 We conclude that the statute as it has been construed is unconstitutionally vague within the meaning of the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to clarify what is contemplated

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by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court below.

I

Appellee Edward Lawson was detained or arrested on approximately 15 occasions between March 1975 and January 1977 pursuant to Cal.Penal Code § 647(e). 2 Lawson was prosecuted only twice, and was convicted once. The second charge was dismissed.

Lawson then brought a civil action in the District Court for the Southern District of California seeking a declaratory judgment that § 647(e) is unconstitutional, a mandatory injunction seeking to restrain enforcement of the statute, and compensatory and punitive damages against the various officers who detained him. The District Court found that § 647(e) was overbroad because "a person who is stopped on less than probable cause cannot be punished for failing to identify himself." Juris. Statement, at A-78. The District Court enjoined enforcement of the statute, but held that Lawson could not recover damages because the officers involved acted in the good faith belief that each detention or arrest was lawful.

Appellant H.A. Porazzo, Deputy Chief Commander of the California Highway Patrol, appealed the District Court decision to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Lawson

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cross-appealed, arguing that he [103 S.Ct. 1857] was entitled to a jury trial on the issue of damages against the officers. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court determination as to the unconstitutionality of § 647(e). The appellate court determined that the statute was unconstitutional in that it violates the Fourth Amendment's proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures, it contains a vague enforcement standard that is susceptible to arbitrary enforcement, and it fails to give fair and adequate notice of the type of conduct prohibited. Finally, the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court as to its holding that Lawson was not entitled to a jury trial to determine the good faith of the officers in his damages action against them, and remanded the case to the District Court for trial.

The officers appealed to this Court from that portion of the judgment of the Court of Appeals which declared § 647(e) unconstitutional and which enjoined its enforcement. We noted probable jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1254(2). 455 U.S. 999, 102 S.Ct. 1629, 71 L.Ed.2d 865 (1982).

II

In the courts below, Lawson mounted an attack on the facial validity of § 647(e). 3 "In evaluating a facial challenge to a state law, a federal court must, of course, consider any limiting construction that a state court or enforcement agency has proffered." Village of Hoffman Estates v. Flipside, Hoffman Estates, 455 U.S. 489, 494, 102 S.Ct. 1186, 1191, 71 L.Ed.2d 362 (1982). As construed by the California Court of Appeal,4 § 647(e) requires that an individual

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provide "credible and reliable" identification when requested by a police officer who has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity sufficient to justify a Terry detention. 5 People v. Solomon, 33 Cal.App.3d 429, 108 Cal.Rptr. 867

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(1973) [103 S.Ct. 1858] . "Credible and reliable" identification is defined by the state Court of Appeal as identification "carrying reasonable assurance that the identification is authentic and providing means for later getting in touch with the person who has identified himself." Id., at 438, 108 Cal.Rptr. 867. In addition, a suspect may be required to "account for his presence ... to the extent that it assists in producing credible and reliable identification ...." Ibid. Under the terms of the statute, failure of the individual to provide "credible and reliable" identification permits the arrest. 6

III

Our Constitution is designed to maximize individual freedoms within a framework of ordered liberty. Statutory limitations on those freedoms are examined for substantive authority and content as well as for definiteness or certainty of expression. See generally M. Bassiouni, Substantive Criminal Law 53 (1978).

As generally stated, the void-for-vagueness doctrine requires that a penal statute define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Village of Hoffman Estates v. Flipside, 455 U.S. 489, 102 S.Ct. 1186, 71 L.Ed.2d 362 (1982); Smith v. Goguen, 415 U.S. 566, 94 S.Ct. 1242, 39 L.Ed.2d 605 (1974); Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 92 S.Ct. 2294, 33 L.Ed.2d 222 (1972); Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 U.S. 156, 92 S.Ct. 839, 31 L.Ed.2d 110 (1972); Connally v. General Construction Co., 269...

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