Palmer v. City of Euclid, Ohio, No. 143

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; HARLAN; STEWART
Citation402 U.S. 544,91 S.Ct. 1563,29 L.Ed.2d 98
Docket NumberNo. 143
Decision Date24 May 1971
PartiesJames PALMER, Appellant, v. CITY OF EUCLID, OHIO

402 U.S. 544
91 S.Ct. 1563
29 L.Ed.2d 98
James PALMER, Appellant,

v.

CITY OF EUCLID, OHIO.

No. 143.
Argued Jan. 11, 1971.
Decided May 24, 1971.

Niki Z. Schwartz, Cleveland, Ohio, for appellant.

David J. Lombardo, Cleveland, Ohio, for appellee.

PER CURIAM.

Appellant Palmer was convicted by a jury of violating the City of Euclid's 'suspicious person ordinance,' that is, of being

'(a)ny person who wanders about the streets or other public ways or who is found abroad at late or unusual hours in the night without any visible or lawful business and who does not give satisfactory account of himself.'

He was fined $50 and sentenced to 30 days in jail. The County Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment and appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio was dismissed 'for

Page 545

the reason that no substantial constitutional question exists herein.' We noted probable jurisdiction. 397 U.S. 1073, 90 S.Ct. 1525, 25 L.Ed.2d 808 (1970).

We reverse the judgment against Palmer because the ordinance is so vague and lacking in ascertainable standards of guilt that, as applied to Palmer, it failed to give 'a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice that his contemplated conduct is forbidden * * *.' United States v. Harriss, 347 U.S. 612, 617, 74 S.Ct. 808, 812, 98 L.Ed. 989 (1954).

The elements of the crime defined by the ordinance apparently are (1) wandering about the streets or being abroad at late or unusual hours; (2) being at the time without visible or lawful business;* and (3) failing to give a satisfactory explanation for his presence on the streets. Palmer, in his car, was seen late at night in a parking lot. A female left his car and entered by the front door an adjoining apartment house. Palmer then pulled onto the street, parked with his lights on, and used a two-way radio. He was not armed. He said he had just let off a friend. He was then arrested. At the station he gave three different addresses for himself and said he did not know his friend's name or where she was going when she left his car. Palmer could reasonably be charged with knowing that he was on the streets at a late or unusual hour and that denying knowledge of his friend's identity and claiming multiple addresses amounted to an unsatisfactory explanation under the ordinance. But in our view the ordinance gave insufficient notice to the average person that discharging

Page 546

a friend at an apartment house and then talking on a car radio while parked on the street was...

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104 practice notes
  • City of Cincinnati v. Hoffman, No. 71-424
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • July 19, 1972
    ...lack ascertainable standards of guilt. (Connolly v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 46 S.Ct. 126, 70 L.Ed. 322; Palmer v. Euclid, 402 U.S. 544, 91 S.Ct. 1563, 29 L.Ed.2d 98.) 2. To willfully conduct oneself in a noisy, boisterous, rude, insulting or other disorderly manner, with the......
  • Goldin v. Public Utilities Commission, S.F. 23714
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • March 15, 1979
    ...to raise them. With respect to the matter of vagueness petitioner places heavy reliance on the case of Palmer v. City of Euclid (1971) 402 U.S. 544, 91 S.Ct. 1563, 29 L.Ed.2d 98, wherein Page 815 [592 P.2d 302] the Supreme Court, in a short per curiam opinion, struck down a city's "suspicio......
  • Landman v. Royster, Civ. A. No. 170-69-R.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • October 30, 1971
    ...The Constitution requires even of minor criminal laws that they give in advance fair notice of forbidden acts. Palmer v. City of Euclid, 402 U.S. 544, 91 S.Ct. 1563, 29 L.Ed.2d 98 (1971); Bouie v. City of Columbia, 378 U.S. 347, 84 S.Ct. 1697, 12 L.Ed.2d 894 (1964). Virginia prisoners have ......
  • Roberts v. State of Me., No. 93-2392
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • April 6, 1994
    ...133-34, 88 S.Ct. 254, 256-57, 19 L.Ed.2d 336 (1967) (sentencing is critical stage in criminal process); see also Palmer v. City of Euclid, 402 U.S. 544, 546, 91 S.Ct. 1563, 1564-65, 29 L.Ed.2d 98 (1971) (per curiam); cf. Burns v. United States, 501 U.S. 129, 137-39, 111 S.Ct. 2182, 2187, 11......
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103 cases
  • City of Cincinnati v. Hoffman, No. 71-424
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • July 19, 1972
    ...lack ascertainable standards of guilt. (Connolly v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 46 S.Ct. 126, 70 L.Ed. 322; Palmer v. Euclid, 402 U.S. 544, 91 S.Ct. 1563, 29 L.Ed.2d 98.) 2. To willfully conduct oneself in a noisy, boisterous, rude, insulting or other disorderly manner, with the......
  • Goldin v. Public Utilities Commission, S.F. 23714
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • March 15, 1979
    ...to raise them. With respect to the matter of vagueness petitioner places heavy reliance on the case of Palmer v. City of Euclid (1971) 402 U.S. 544, 91 S.Ct. 1563, 29 L.Ed.2d 98, wherein Page 815 [592 P.2d 302] the Supreme Court, in a short per curiam opinion, struck down a city's "suspicio......
  • Landman v. Royster, Civ. A. No. 170-69-R.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • October 30, 1971
    ...The Constitution requires even of minor criminal laws that they give in advance fair notice of forbidden acts. Palmer v. City of Euclid, 402 U.S. 544, 91 S.Ct. 1563, 29 L.Ed.2d 98 (1971); Bouie v. City of Columbia, 378 U.S. 347, 84 S.Ct. 1697, 12 L.Ed.2d 894 (1964). Virginia prisoners have ......
  • Roberts v. State of Me., No. 93-2392
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • April 6, 1994
    ...133-34, 88 S.Ct. 254, 256-57, 19 L.Ed.2d 336 (1967) (sentencing is critical stage in criminal process); see also Palmer v. City of Euclid, 402 U.S. 544, 546, 91 S.Ct. 1563, 1564-65, 29 L.Ed.2d 98 (1971) (per curiam); cf. Burns v. United States, 501 U.S. 129, 137-39, 111 S.Ct. 2182, 2187, 11......
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1 books & journal articles
  • The Supreme Court of the United States, 1970-1971
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 24-4, December 1971
    • December 1, 1971
    ...con- duct which he could not reasonably understand to be proscribed, the Court ina per curiam decision (Palmer v. City of Euclid, Ohio, 402 U.S. 544; 91 S. 1563) held void Euclid’s &dquo;suspicious person ordinance.&dquo; This provided that any person found on the street at late or unusual ......

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