Spencer v. Kemna

Decision Date03 March 1998
Docket Number967171
Citation140 L.Ed.2d 43,523 U.S. 1,118 S.Ct. 978
PartiesRandy G. SPENCER, Petitioner, v. Mike KEMNA, Superintendent, Western Missouri Correctional Center, et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

On October 17, 1990, petitioner began serving concurrent three-year sentences for convictions of felony stealing and burglary, due to expire on October 16, 1993. On April 16, 1992, he was released on parole, but on September 24, 1992, that parole was revoked and he was returned to prison. Thereafter, he sought to invalidate the parole revocation, first filing habeas petitions in state court, and then the present federal habeas petition. Before the District Court addressed the merits of the habeas petition, petitioner's sentence expired, and so the District Court dismissed the petition as moot. The Eighth Circuit affirmed.

Held: The expiration of petitioner's sentence has caused his petition to be moot because it no longer presents an Article III case or controversy.

(a) An incarcerated convict's (or a parolee's) challenge to his conviction always satisfies the case-or-controversy requirement because the incarceration (or the restriction imposed by the terms of parole) constitutes a concrete injury caused by the conviction and redressable by the conviction's invalidation. Once the sentence has expired, however, the petitioner must show some concrete and continuing injury other than the now-ended incarceration (or parole)-some "collateral consequence'' of the conviction-if the suit is to be maintained. In recent decades, this Court has presumed that a wrongful conviction has continuing collateral consequences (or, what is effectively the same, has counted collateral consequences that are remote and unlikely to occur). Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 55-56, 88 S.Ct. 1889, 1898-99, 20 L.Ed.2d 917. However, in Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624, 102 S.Ct. 1322, 71 L.Ed.2d 508, the Court refused to extend this presumption of collateral consequences to the revocation of parole. The Court adheres to that refusal, which leaves only the question whether petitioner has demonstrated collateral consequences. Pp. ___-___.

(b) Petitioner's asserted injuries-in-fact do not establish collateral consequences sufficient to state an Article III case or controversy. That his parole revocation could be used to his detriment in a future parole proceeding is merely a possibility rather than a certainty or a probability. That the revocation could be used to increase his sentence in a future sentencing proceeding is, like a similar claim rejected in Lane, contingent on petitioner's violating the law, being caught and convicted. Likewise speculative are petitioner's other allegations of collateral consequence-that the parole revocation could be used to impeach him should he appear as a witness in future proceedings, and that it could be used directly against him should he appear as a defendant in a criminal proceeding. Pp. ___-___.

(c) The Court finds no merit in petitioner's remaining arguments-that since he is foreclosed from pursuing a damages action under 42 U.S.C. §1983 unless he can establish his parole revocation's invalidity, see Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383, his action to establish that invalidity cannot be moot; that this case falls within the exception to the mootness doctrine for cases that are "capable of repetition, yet evading review''; and that the mootness of his case should be ignored because it was caused by the dilatory tactics of the state attorney general's office and by district court delays. P. ___.

91 F.3d 1114, affirmed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and O'CONNOR, KENNEDY, SOUTER, THOMAS, GINSBURG, AND BREYER, JJ., joined. SOUTER, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which O'CONNOR, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a concurring opinion. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

John W. Simon, Columbia, MO, for petitioner.

James R. Layton, Washington, DC, for respondent.

Justice SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.

In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Randy G. Spencer seeks to invalidate a September 24, 1992, order revoking his parole. Because Spencer has completed the entire term of imprisonment underlying the parole revocation, we must decide whether his petition is moot.


On October 17, 1990, petitioner began serving concurrent 3-year sentences in Missouri on convictions of felony stealing and burglary. On April 16, 1992, he was released on parole, but on September 24, 1992, the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole, after hearing, issued an Order of Revocation revoking the parole. The order concluded that petitioner had violated three of the conditions, set forth in Missouri's Code of Regulations, Title 14, §80-3.010 (1992), that a Missouri inmate must comply with in order to remain on parole:

"NOW, THEREFORE, after careful consideration of evidence presented, said charges which warrant revocation are sustained, to wit:

#1-LAWS: I will obey all federal and state laws, municipal and county ordinances. I will report all arrests to my Probation and Parole Officer within 48 hours.

#6-DRUGS: I will not have in my possession or use any controlled substance except as prescribed for me by a licensed medical practitioner.

#7-WEAPONS: I will, if my probation or parole is based on a misdemeanor involving firearms or explosives, or any felony charge, not own, possess, purchase, receive, sell or transport any firearms, ammunition or explosive device or any dangerous weapon as defined by federal, state or municipal laws or ordinances.'' App. 55-56.

The specific conduct that violated these conditions was described only by citation of the parole violation report that the Board used in making its determination: "Evidence relied upon for violation is from the Initial Violation Report dated 7-27-92.'' Id., at 56.

That report, prepared by State Probation and Parole Officer Jonathan Tintinger, summarized a June 3, 1992, police report prepared by the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, according to which a woman had alleged that petitioner, after smoking crack cocaine with her at a local crack house and later at his own home, pressed a screwdriver against her side and raped her. According to the Kansas City report, petitioner had admitted smoking crack cocaine with the woman, but claimed that the sexual intercourse between them had been consensual. Officer Tintinger's report then described his own interview with petitioner, at which petitioner again admitted smoking crack cocaine with the woman, denied that he had pressed a screwdriver to her side, and did not respond to the allegation of rape. Finally, after noting that "Spencer [was] a registered sex offender, having been given a five-year prison sentence for Sodomy in 1983,'' App. 75, Officer Tintinger's report tentatively recommended that petitioner's parole be continued, but that he be placed in a drug treatment center. The report withheld making "an ultimate recommendation based on the alleged [rape and dangerous weapon] violations'' until the prosecuting attorney's office had a chance to dispose of those charges. Id., at 76. "In the event formal charges are ultimately filed,'' it said, "a separate recommendation will be forthcoming.'' Ibid. Petitioner was never charged, but a September 14, 1992, follow-up report prepared by Institutional Parole Officer Peggy McClure concluded that "there [did] appear to be significant evidence that Spencer ha[d] violated the conditions of his parole as stated,'' and recommended that petitioner's parole be revoked. Id., at 64. Officer McClure's report is not mentioned in the Order of Revocation.

On being returned to prison, petitioner began his efforts to invalidate the Order of Revocation. He first sought relief in the Missouri courts, but was rejected by the Circuit Court of DeKalb County, the Missouri Court of Appeals, and, finally, the Missouri Supreme Court. Then, on April 1, 1993, just over six months before the expiration of his 3-year sentence, petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, see 28 U.S.C. §2254, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, alleging that he had not received due process in the parole revocation proceedings. 1 Over petitioner's objections, the District Court granted the State two requested extensions of time to respond to the petition, deferring the deadline from June 2, 1993, until July 7, 1993. On July 14, 1993, after receiving the State's response, petitioner filed a lengthy "Motion and Request for Final Disposition of this Matter,'' in which he requested that the District Court expedite decision on his case in order to prevent his claim from becoming moot. Before the District Court responded to this motion, however, on August 7, 1993, petitioner was re-released on parole, and, two months after that, on October 16, 1993, the term of his imprisonment expired. On February 3, 1994, the District Court "noted'' petitioner's July motion, stating that " [t]he resolution of this case will not be delayed beyond the requirements of this Court's docket.'' App. 127. Then, on August 23, 1995, the District Court dismissed petitioner's habeas petition. "Because,'' it said, "the sentences at issue here have expired, petitioner is no longer "in custody' within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. §2254(a), and his claim for habeas corpus relief is moot.'' Id., at 130.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the District Court's judgment, 2 concluding that, under our decision in Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624, 632, 102 S.Ct. 1322, 1327-28, 71 L.Ed.2d 508 (1982), petitioner's claim had become moot because he suffered no "collateral consequences'' of the revocation order. 91 F.3d 1114 (1996). (It acknowledged that this interpretation of Lane did not accord with that of the Second and...

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