Morrissey v. Brewer
Annotate this Case
408 U.S. 471 (1972)
U.S. Supreme Court
Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (1972)
Morrissey v. Brewer
Argued April 11, 1972
Decided June 29, 1972
408 U.S. 471
Petitioners in these habeas corpus proceedings claimed that their paroles were revoked without a hearing and that they were thereby deprived of due process. The Court of Appeals, in affirming the District Court's denial of relief, reasoned that, under controlling authorities, parole is only "a correctional device authorizing service of sentence outside a penitentiary," and concluded that a parolee, who is still "in custody," is not entitled to a full adversary hearing such as would be mandated in a criminal proceeding.
1. Though parole revocation does not call for the full panoply of rights due a defendant in a criminal proceeding, a parolee's liberty involves significant values within the protection of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and termination of that liberty requires an informal hearing to give assurance that the finding of a parole violation is based on verified facts to support the revocation. Pp. 408 U. S. 480-482.
2. Due process requires a reasonably prompt informal inquiry conducted by an impartial hearing officer near the place of the alleged parole violation or arrest to determine if there is reasonable ground to believe that the arrested parolee has violated a parole condition. The parolee should receive prior notice of the inquiry, its purpose, and the alleged violations. The parolee may present relevant information and (absent security considerations) question adverse informants. The hearing officer shall digest the evidence on probable cause and state the reasons for holding the parolee for the parole board's decision. Pp. 408 U. S. 484-487.
3. At the revocation hearing, which must be conducted reasonably soon after the parolee's arrest, minimum due process requirements are: (a) written notice of the claimed violations of parole; (b) disclosure to the parolee of evidence against him; (c) opportunity to be heard in person and to present witnesses and documentary evidence; (d) the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses (unless the hearing officer specifically finds good cause for not allowing confrontation); (e) a "neutral and detached" hearing body such as a traditional parole board, members of which need not be judicial officers or lawyers; and (f) a written statement
by the factfinders as to the evidence relied on and reasons for revoking parole. Pp. 408 U. S. 487-490.
443 F.2d 942, reversed and remanded.
BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 408 U. S. 490. DOUGLAS, J., filed an opinion dissenting in part, post, p. 408 U. S. 491.
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