Thompson v. City of Louisville, No. 59

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACK
Citation4 L.Ed.2d 654,80 S.Ct. 624,362 U.S. 199
Docket NumberNo. 59
Decision Date21 March 1960
PartiesSam THOMPSON, Petitioner, v. CITY OF LOUISVILLE et al

362 U.S. 199
80 S.Ct. 624
4 L.Ed.2d 654
Sam THOMPSON, Petitioner,

v.

CITY OF LOUISVILLE et al.

No. 59.
Argued Jan. 11, 12, 1960.
Decided March 21, 1960.

Mr. Louis Lusky, Louisville, Ky. (Messrs, Marvin H. Morse, Louisville, Ky., Harold Leventhal and Eugene Gressman, Washington, D.C.) on the brief, for petitioner.

Mr. Herman E. Frick, Louisville, Ky., for respondents.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner was found guilty in the Police Court of Louisville, Kentucky, of two offenses—loitering and disorderly conduct. The ultimate question presented to us is whether the charges against petitioner were so totally devoid of evidentiary support as to render his conviction unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Decision of this question turns not on the sufficiency of the evidence, but on whether this conviction rests upon any evidence at all.

The facts as shown by the record are short and simple. Petitioner, a longtime resident of the Louisville area, went into the Liberty End Cafe about 6:20 on Saturday evening, January 24, 1959. In addition to selling food the cafe was licensed to sell beer to the public and

Page 200

some 12 to 30 patrons were present during the time petitioner was there. When petitioner had been in the cafe about half an hour, two Louisville police officers came in on a 'routine check.' Upon on seeing petitioner 'out there on the floor dancing by himself,' one of the officers, according to his testimony, went up to the manager who was sitting on a stool nearby and asked him how long petitioner had been in there and if he had bought anything. The officer testified that upon being told by the manager that petitioner had been there 'a little over a half-hour and that he had not bought anything,' he accosted Thompson and 'asked him what was his reason for being in there and he said he was waiting on a bus.' The officer then informed petitioner that he was under arrest and took him outside. This was the arrest for loitering. After going outside, the officer testified, petitioner 'was very argumentative—he argued with us back and forth and so then we placed a disorderly conduct charge on him.' Admittedly the disorderly conduct conviction rests solely on this one sentence description of petitioner's conduct after he left the cafe.

The foregoing evidence includes all that the city offered against him, except a record purportedly showing a total of 54 previous arrests of petitioner. Before putting on his defense, petitioner moved for a dismissal of the charges against him on the ground that a judgment of conviction on this record would deprive him of property and liberty1 without due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment in that (1) there was no evidence to support findings of guilt and (2) the two arrests and prosecutions were reprisals against him because petitioner had employed counsel and demanded a judicial hearing to

Page 201

defend himself against prior and allegedly baseless charges by the police.2 This motion was denied.

Petitioner then put in evidence on his own behalf, none of which in any way strengthened the city's case. He testified that he bought, and one of the cafe employees served him, a dish of macaroni and a glass of beer and that he remained in the cafe waiting for a bus to go home.3 Further evidence showed without dispute that at the time of his arrest petitioner gave the officers his home address; that he had money with him, and a bus schedule showing that a bus to his home would stop within half a block of the cafe at about 7:30; that he owned two unimproved lots of land; that in addition to work he had done for others, he had regularly worked one day or more a week for the same family for 30 years; that he paid no rent in the home where he lived and that his meager income was sufficient to meet his needs. The cafe manager testified that petitioner had frequently patronized the cafe, and that he had never told petitioner that he was unwelcome there. The manager further testified that on this very occasion he saw petitioner 'standing there in the middle

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of the floor and patting his foot,' and that he did not at any time during petitioner's stay there object to anything he was doing. There is no evidence that anyone else in the cafe objected to petitioner's shuffing his feet in rhythm with the music of the jukebox or that his conduct was boisterous or offensive to anyone present. At the close of his evidence, petitioner repeated his motion for dismissal of the charges on the ground that a conviction on the foregoing evidence would deprive him of liberty and property without due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The court denied the motion, convicted him of both offenses, and fined him $10 on each charge. A motion for new trial, on the same grounds, also was denied, which exhausted petitioner's remedies in the police court.

Since police court fines of less than $20 on a single charge are not appealable or otherwise reviewable in any other Kentucky court,4 petitioner asked the police court to stay the judgments so that he might have an opportunity to apply for certiorari to this Court (before his case became moot) 5 to review the due process contentions he raised. The police court suspended judgment for 24 hours during which time petitioner sought a longer stay from the Kentucky Circuit Court. That court, after examining the police court's judgment and transcript, granted a stay concluding that 'there appears to be merit' in the contention that 'there is no evidence upon which

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conviction and sentence by the Police Court could be based' and that petitioner's Federal Sonstitutional claims are substantial and not frivolous.'6 On appeal by the city, the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the...

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595 practice notes
  • Rogers v. Richmond, No. 40
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 20, 1961
    ...severed in consideration. And in any event, there must be a foundation in fact for the legal result. See Thompson v. City of Louisville, 362 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct. 624, 4 L.Ed.2d 654. With due regard to these considerations, it would be manifestly unfair, and afford niggardly protection for fed......
  • Sheridan v. Garrison, Civ. A. No. 67-1147.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana
    • August 28, 1967
    ...of evidence against them, their convictions will be set aside because of a denial of due process of law. Thompson v. City of Louisville, 362 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct 624, 4 L.Ed.2d 654. If at their trial they are in fact denied any federal constitutional rights, and these denials go uncorrected by......
  • Cobb v. Wyrick, Civ. A. No. 73CV49-W-1-3.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • June 20, 1974
    ...it must be shown that the evidence in support of guilt is totally devoid of value or materially deficient. Thompson v. City of Louisville, 362 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct. 624, 4 L.Ed.2d 654 (1960); McGhee v. Sigler, 328 F.Supp. 538 (D. Neb.1971), affirmed, 455 F.2d 987 (8th Cir. 1972), cert. denied,......
  • People v. Phillips, No. 86-2711
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • March 10, 1989
    ...his Virginia conviction in a habeas corpus proceeding in the Federal court. Applying the "no evidence" criteria of Thompson v. Louisville, 362 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct. 624, 4 L.Ed.2d 654, the district court found the record devoid of evidence of premeditation and granted the writ. The court of ap......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
594 cases
  • Rogers v. Richmond, No. 40
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 20, 1961
    ...severed in consideration. And in any event, there must be a foundation in fact for the legal result. See Thompson v. City of Louisville, 362 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct. 624, 4 L.Ed.2d 654. With due regard to these considerations, it would be manifestly unfair, and afford niggardly protection for fed......
  • Sheridan v. Garrison, Civ. A. No. 67-1147.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana
    • August 28, 1967
    ...of evidence against them, their convictions will be set aside because of a denial of due process of law. Thompson v. City of Louisville, 362 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct 624, 4 L.Ed.2d 654. If at their trial they are in fact denied any federal constitutional rights, and these denials go uncorrected by......
  • Cobb v. Wyrick, Civ. A. No. 73CV49-W-1-3.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • June 20, 1974
    ...it must be shown that the evidence in support of guilt is totally devoid of value or materially deficient. Thompson v. City of Louisville, 362 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct. 624, 4 L.Ed.2d 654 (1960); McGhee v. Sigler, 328 F.Supp. 538 (D. Neb.1971), affirmed, 455 F.2d 987 (8th Cir. 1972), cert. denied,......
  • People v. Phillips, No. 86-2711
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • March 10, 1989
    ...his Virginia conviction in a habeas corpus proceeding in the Federal court. Applying the "no evidence" criteria of Thompson v. Louisville, 362 U.S. 199, 80 S.Ct. 624, 4 L.Ed.2d 654, the district court found the record devoid of evidence of premeditation and granted the writ. The court of ap......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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