419 U.S. 983 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court


419 U.S. 983

Linda SPADY and Vincent Spady
No. 73-6874.

Supreme Court of the United States October 29, 1974

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals of New York.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, dissenting.

Petitioners Linda and Vincent Spady applied for public housing in Mount Vernon, New York, in early 1971. Their application was accepted, and in early July they were told that they were eligible for low-income public housing accommodations. On July 9, 1971, petitioners signed a lease, paid one month's rent plus a security deposit, and were assigned to a specific apartment which would be available to them on July 15, 1971. On or before that date, however, the respondent Housing Authority learned from other tenants that Vincent Spady had previously used the name of Vincent Bentley, 1 and that he had compiled a criminal record under that name. Investigation disclosed that Vincent had been arrested once on burglary charges, which were dismissed when the complaining witnesses failed to appear before the grand jury, and had been arrested again on robbery charges, which were dismissed when he was certified for treatment as a narcotics addict. Since those arrests, he had undergone treatment for his narcotics addiction, had been released as rehabilitated, and was enrolled in a methadone maintenance program.

Upon learning these details, the Housing Authority revoked petitioners' eligibility and removed them from its housing list, on the grounds that their application had been 'untruthful' and had failed to reveal Vincent's prior arrests and certification as a narcotics addict. [Footnote 2] Pe-

Page 419 U.S. 983 , 984

titioners requested an evidentiary hearing to contest the revocation, but the Housing Authority declined to grant a hearing. Petitioners then brought suit in the New York Supreme Court, which ordered the Authority to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether petitioners met applicable desirability standards for public housing eligibility. A divided Appellate Division reversed, holding that petitioners were not entitled to a hearing because they were not tenants in possession, and that the Authority's revocation of petitioners' eligibility had a rational basis. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed on the memorandum of the Appellate Division.

Petitioners contend that they were entitled to an evidentiary hearing before they could be deprived of their eligibility for public housing; they further contend that the reasons advanced by the Authority in support of that revocation are so arbitrary and so lacking in any rational basis as to constitute a denial of due process of law and of the equal protection of the laws. [Footnote 3]

Our decisions in recent years have identified a wide range of important interests which the State may not trample upon without a prior hearing. Thus we have required hearings prior to termination of welfare benefits, Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254; revo- [419 U.S. 983 , 985]

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