Case Brief By Course Institution Date Table of Contents Turner v. Rogers, 131 S.Ct. 2507 3 Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 566 U.S. _ (2012). 5 Arizona et al v. United States, No. 11-182 567 U.S. _  7 Miller v. Alabama, No…
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Rogers, 131 S.Ct. 2507 Vote: 5-4 I. Facts of the Case A family court in South Carolina order that the appellant pay a weekly sum of $51-73 in child support. The appellant was held in contempt on five separate occasions. Upon release the family court submitted a show cause process since the appellant was in arrears. At the civil contempt hearing the appellant was not represented by legal counsel and was found to be in wilful contempt and received a 1 year custodial sentence although the court did not rule on the appellant’s means or capacity to make the child support payments. After completing the sentence the appellant filed a complaint which was rejected by South Carolina’s Supreme Court on the grounds that the matter was civil. II. The Law Article III of the US Constitution only permits the US Supreme Court to hear cases and controversies so that an issue deemed moot does not fall within the US Supreme Court’s Article III jurisdiction. The 14th Amendment’s due process clause requires that no person shall be deprived of his or her liberty or property without due process. III. Legal Issues/Questions Is the appellant’s claim moot since he had already completed his sentence? Is the appellant entitled to legal counsel pursuant to the due process clause in a civil contempt hearing? IV. Holding/Decision and Action The decision of the lower court was reversed and remanded. V. Opinion The majority opinion was delivered by Breyer J. who ruled that the appellant’s claim was not moot since it could be repeated. Breyer J. also reasoned that the due process clause does not require the provision of legal counsel in civil contempt hearings for failure to pay child support if the state makes provisions for “alternative procedural safeguards. The safeguards would include notice that capacity to pay was a crucial issue; financial means and ability was elicited; the defendant has an opportunity to argue his financial means; and the court makes a ruling relative to the defendant’s ability to pay. Since the appellant was denied these alternative safeguards he was entitled to legal counsel pursuant to the due process clause. VI. Separate Opinion Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion in which he agreed with the lower court and found that the majority opinion was based on issues not raised by the appellant. VII. The Decision as Legal Precedent The decision is not a legal precedent it merely applied a ruling in a similar civil case to the facts of this case. VIII. Summary of Legal Principle A case is alive if it involves an issue that could be repeated for the claimant. Due process cannot be denied in a civil contempt hearing where the defendant faces incarceration. Failure to provide due process would impose upon the government a duty to provide legal counsel for the defendant. IX. Evaluation Due process inevitably means that a defendant in any proceedings, civil or criminal, confronting the deprivation of freedom or property is entitled to safeguards that protect his/her right to be heard and to defend a claim against him/her warranting such deprivation. X. Free Space Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 566 U.S. ___ (2012). Vote: 5-3 I. Facts of the Case The appellant was a passenger in a car driven by his wife who was pulled over for a traffic offence. A computer check erroneously revealed that the appellant had an outstanding warrant. The appellant was subsequently arrested, detained and strip searched, although he was subsequently released by the court. The appellant filed suit
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