LEWIS v. HYLAND - 434 U.S. 931 (1977)


U.S. Supreme Court

LEWIS v. HYLAND , 434 U.S. 931 (1977)

434 U.S. 931

George W. LEWIS et al.
v.
William F. HYLAND et al
No. 77-301

Supreme Court of the United States

October 31, 1977

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third District.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.

I dissent from the denial of the petition for certiorari.

Petitioners sought relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on behalf of a class of persons who travel on the public highways and toll roads of New Jersey and who, it was alleged, have been subjected to a "pattern and practice" of unreasonable stops and searches by the New Jersey State Police. Petitioners' complaint further defined a subclass of "long-haired highway travelers," who allegedly have been subjected to illegal stops and searches solely because of their "highly individualized personal appearance." The Court of Appeals found the complaint sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, Lewis v. Kugler, 446 F.2d 1343 (C.A. [Footnote 3] 1971), and petitioners then had an opportunity to prove their case against respondents, the Attorney General of New Jersey, the Superintendent of State Police, 14 named state police troopers, and a class of unnamed troopers.

At trial, according to the Court of Appeals, petitioners " substantiated (and, indeed, augmented) their initial allegations." 554 F.2d 93, 94 (C.A. 3 1977). The court summarized "[t]he district court's extensive findings of fact" as "reveal[ing] what can only be described as callous indifference by the New Jersey State Police for the rights of citizens using New Jersey roads." Ibid. In the view of the Court of Appeals, petitioners would clearly have been entitled to injunctive relief , "in light of [their] demonstration of numerous violations of their constitutional rights," were it not for this

Page 434 U.S. 931 , 932

Court's ruling in Rizzo v. Goode, 423 U.S. 362 (1976). 554 F.2d, at 95.

Any lower court decision that reads a single opinion of this Court as effectuating a sharp change in the law deserves careful scrutiny before certiorari is denied, at least when the opinion does not claim to be making any such change. When the lower court's reading of our opinion results in the denial of relief to a large class of persons whose federal constitutional rights were repeatedly violated-as established by substantial evidence credited by the finder of fact, following the expenditure of many hours of judges' and litigants' time-a strong case is established for the granting of certiorari. When the opinion of this Court that is the sole cause of the denial of relief is grounded in particular facts and contains alternative rationales, the case for granting certiorari becomes compelling.

I joined my Brother BLACKMUN's dissenting opinion in Rizzo v. Goode, supra, and continue to believe that the case was wrongly decided. One can accept Rizzo, however, and yet view it as only one step in, rather than the end of, this Court's continuing effort to define the contours of 1983 suits against public officials who, with varying degrees of personal participation, have allowed the violation of citizens' rights by subordinate employees. Certainly the lower courts have not found in Rizzo any unambiguous signal; to the contrary, they have given the opinion varying interpretations that suggest the need for guidance from this Court. 1 [434 U.S. 931 , 933]




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