Lane v. Williams
Annotate this Case
455 U.S. 624 (1982)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624 (1982)
Lane v. Williams
Argued December 1, 1981
Decided March 23, 1982
455 U.S. 624
In 1975, both respondents pleaded guilty in unrelated Illinois state court prosecutions for burglary, an offense punishable at that time by imprisonment for an indeterminate term of years and a mandatory 3-year parole term. Neither respondent, during his plea acceptance hearing, was informed that his negotiated sentence included the mandatory parole term. Each respondent completed his prison sentence, was released on parole, and was then reincarcerated for parole violation. While in custody, each filed petitions for federal habeas corpus, which were consolidated in the District Court, alleging that the failure of the trial courts to advise them of the mandatory parole requirement before accepting their guilty pleas deprived them of due process of law. The District Court found for respondents and, in accordance with the relief requested by them, merely ordered their release through "specific performance" of the plea bargains, rather than nullifying the guilty pleas and allowing them to plead anew. After a remand from the Court of Appeals based on a question as to exhaustion of state remedies, the District Court ultimately again entered judgment for respondents. Since they had already been discharged from custody, the court simply entered an order "declaring void the mandatory parole term[s]." The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: Respondents' claims for relief are moot. Assuming that the failure to advise respondents of the mandatory parole requirement rendered their guilty pleas void, they could have sought to have their convictions set aside and to plead anew, and this case would not then be moot. Such relief would free them from all consequences flowing from their convictions, as well as subject them to reconviction with a possibly greater sentence, thus preserving a live controversy to determine whether a constitutional violation had occurred and whether respondents were entitled to the relief sought. However, by seeking "specific enforcement" of the plea agreement by elimination of the mandatory parole term from their sentences, respondents instead elected to attack only their sentences, and to remedy the alleged constitutional violation by removing the consequence that gave rise to the constitutional harm. Since their parole terms have now expired, they are no longer subject to any direct restraint
as a result of the parole terms, and the case is moot. Neither the doctrine that an attack on a criminal conviction is not rendered moot by the fact that the underlying sentence has expired nor the doctrine that a case is not moot where it is "capable of repetition, yet evading review," is applicable here. Pp. 455 U. S. 630-634.
633 F.2d 71, vacated.
STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 455 U. S. 634.