470 U.S. 1018 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

GREGORY v. TOWN OF PITTSFIELD , 470 U.S. 1018 (1985)

470 U.S. 1018

No. 84-5720

Supreme Court of the United States

February 25, 1985

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice O'CONNOR, with whom Justice BRENNAN and Justice MARSHALL join, dissenting.

This petition raises important and unresolved issues concerning the protection afforded by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to applicants for general assistance. Because the decision below relies on a questionable reading of this Court's precedent to hold that such applicants are entitled to no procedural safeguards whatsoever and, alternatively, that state law remedies provide sufficient due process, I would grant certiorari.

Petitioner Cindy Gregory and her husband on April 13, 1982, filed an application with respondent town of Pittsfield, Maine, seeking general assistance in order to pay their rent. The Town Manager, respondent Gene Moyers, denied this request on the grounds that Mrs. Gregory had quit her job and had spent an Aid to Families with Dependent Children check to obtain her husband's release from jail. Contrary to the requirements of state law, Moyers did not provide a written notice of this decision

Page 470 U.S. 1018 , 1019

informing Mrs. Gregory of her right to an administrative hearing. [Footnote 1] Mrs. Gregory unsuccessfully requested assistance again on April 16. On the morning of April 23, she filed an action in the Superior Court of Somerset County, State of Maine, requesting a temporary restraining order against the town's denial of general assistance. The court directed Mrs. Gregory to exhaust the administrative hearing procedure established by Me.Rev.Stat. Ann., Tit. 22, 4507 (1980), and instructed the town's hearing authority to follow the decision of the Maine Supreme Court in Page v. City of Auburn, 440 A.2d 363 (1982), which held that voluntary termination of employment is not a valid ground for denying general assistance. On the afternoon of April 23, Mrs. Gregory went to the Pittsfield Municipal Office and filed written requests for general assistance and for an administrative hearing on the denial of her April 13 application. The request for assistance was denied, and the town again failed to provide Mrs. Gregory with written notice of the decision. On April 29, 1983, the town's hearing authority upheld the denial of benefits requested on April 13 and refused to review the denial of the April 23 application.

Thwarted in her efforts to obtain assistance, Mrs. Gregory then filed an action in Superior Court requesting review of the hearing authority's decision pursuant to state law and also seeking relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for alleged constitutional deprivations. The Superior Court held that Mrs. Gregory was entitled to an award of assistance based on the April 13 application and that the town's hearing authority had violated statutory requirements by refusing to hold a hearing on her April 23 application. Moreover, the court found that the town's policy was not to provide applicants with a written decision unless the applicant went to the Municipal Office and submitted a request. This policy, along with [470 U.S. 1018 , 1020]

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