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PEREZ ET AL. v. LEDESMA ET AL.

decided: February 23, 1971.

PEREZ ET AL
v.
LEDESMA ET AL.



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA.

Black, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Burger, C. J., and Harlan, Stewart, and Blackmun, JJ., joined. Stewart, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Blackmun, J., joined, post, p. 89. Douglas, J., filed an opinion dissenting in part, post, p. 90. Brennan, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which White and Marshall, JJ., joined, post, p. 93.

Author: Black

[ 401 U.S. Page 83]

 MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Given our decisions today in No. 2, Younger v. Harris, ante, p. 37; No. 7, Samuels v. Mackell, and No. 9, Fernandez v. Mackell, ante, p. 66; No. 4, Boyle v. Landry, ante, p. 77; No. 83, Byrne v. Karalexis, post, p. 216; and No. 41, Dyson v. Stein, post, p. 200, in which we have determined when it is appropriate for a federal court to intervene in the administration of a State's criminal laws, the disposition of this case should not be difficult.

I

Ledesma and the other appellees operated a newsstand in the Parish of St. Bernard, Louisiana, where they displayed for sale allegedly obscene magazines, books, and playing cards. As a result of this activity, appellees were charged in four informations filed in state court with violations of Louisiana statute, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:106 (Supp. 1970), and St. Bernard Parish Ordinance 21-60. After the state court proceedings had commenced by the filing of the informations, appellees instituted the instant suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, New Orleans Division. Since the appellees sought a judgment declaring a state statute of statewide application unconstitutional, together with an injunction against pending or future prosecutions under the statute, a three-judge court was convened. That court held the Louisiana statute constitutional on its face, but ruled that the arrests of appellees and the seizure of the allegedly obscene materials were invalid for lack of a prior adversary hearing on the character of the seized materials. Although the three-judge court declined to issue an injunction against the pending

[ 401 U.S. Page 84]

     or any future prosecutions, it did enter a suppression order and require the return of all the seized material to the appellees. 304 F.Supp. 662, 667-670 (1969). The local district attorney and other law enforcement officers appealed and we set the case for argument but postponed the question of jurisdiction to the hearing on the merits. 399 U.S. 924 (1970).*fn1

It is difficult to imagine a more disruptive interference with the operation of the state criminal process short of an injunction against all state proceedings. Even the three-judge court recognized that its judgment would effectively stifle the then-pending state criminal prosecution.

"In view of our holding that the arrests and seizures in these cases are invalid for want of a prior adversary judicial determination of obscenity, which holding requires suppression and return of the seized materials, the prosecutions should be effectively terminated." 304 F.Supp., at 670. (Emphasis added.)

Moreover, the District Court retained jurisdiction "for the purposes of hereafter entering any orders necessary to enforce" its view of the proper procedures in the then-pending state obscenity prosecution. According to our holding in Younger v. Harris, supra, such federal interference with a state prosecution is improper. The propriety of arrests and the admissibility of evidence in state criminal prosecutions are ordinarily matters to be resolved by state tribunals, see Stefanelli v. Minard, 342 U.S. 117

[ 401 U.S. Page 85]

     (1951), subject, of course, to review by certiorari or appeal in this Court or, in a proper case, on federal habeas corpus. Here Ledesma was free to present his federal constitutional claims concerning arrest and seizure of materials or other matters to the Louisiana courts in the manner permitted in that State. Only in cases of proven harassment or prosecutions undertaken by state officials in bad faith without hope of obtaining a valid conviction and perhaps in other extraordinary circumstances where irreparable injury can be shown is federal injunctive relief against pending state prosecutions appropriate. See Younger v. Harris, supra; Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908). There is nothing in the record before us to suggest that Louisiana officials undertook these prosecutions other than in a good-faith attempt to enforce the State's criminal laws. We therefore hold that the three-judge court improperly intruded into the State's own criminal process and reverse its orders suppressing evidence in the pending state prosecution and directing the return of all seized materials.

II

After crippling Louisiana's ability to enforce its criminal statute against Ledesma, the three-judge court expressed the view that the Parish of St. Bernard Ordinance 21-60 was invalid. Although the court below recognized that "it is not the function of a three-judge federal district court to determine the constitutionality or enjoin the enforcement of a local ordinance," the court nevertheless seized the "opportunity to express its views on the constitutionality of the ordinance." 304 F.Supp. 662, 670 n. 31 (1969). Judge Boyle, the District Judge who initially referred the action to the three-judge court, adopted that court's view and declared the parish ordinance invalid. There is considerable question concerning

[ 401 U.S. Page 86]

     the propriety of issuing a declaratory judgment against a criminal law in the circumstances of this case.*fn2

III

We are, however, unable to review the decision concerning the local ordinance because this Court has no jurisdiction to review on direct appeal the validity of a declaratory judgment against a local ordinance, such as St. Bernard Parish Ordinance 21-60. Even if an order granting a declaratory judgment against the ordinance had been entered by the three-judge court below (which it had not), that court would have been acting in the capacity of a single-judge court. We held in Moody v. Flowers, 387 U.S. 97 (1967), that a three-judge court was not properly convened to consider the constitutionality of a statute of only local application, similar to a local ordinance. Under 28 U. S. C. § 1253 we have jurisdiction to consider on direct appeal only those civil actions "required . . . to be heard and determined" by a three-judge court. Since the constitutionality of this parish ordinance was not "required . . . to be heard and determined" by a three-judge panel, there is no jurisdiction in this Court to review that question.

The fact that a three-judge court was properly convened in this case to consider the injunctive relief requested against the enforcement of the state statute, does not give this Court jurisdiction on direct appeal over other controversies where there is no independent jurisdictional

[ 401 U.S. Page 87]

     base. Even where a three-judge court is properly convened to consider one controversy between two parties, the parties are not necessarily entitled to a three-judge court and a direct appeal on other controversies that may exist between them.*fn3 See Public Service Comm'n v. Brashear Freight Lines, 306 U.S. 204 (1939).

In this case, the order granting the declaratory judgment was not issued by a three-judge court, but rather by Judge Boyle, acting as a single district judge. The three-judge court stated:

"The view expressed by this court concerning the constitutionality of the ordinance is shared by the initiating federal district judge and is adopted by reference in his opinion issued contemporaneously herewith." 304 F.Supp., at 670 n. 31. (Emphasis added.)

The last clause of the quoted sentence indicates what, under Moody v. Flowers, must be the case: The decision granting declaratory relief against the Parish of St. Bernard Ordinance 21-60 was the decision of a single federal judge. This fact is confirmed by the orders entered by the two courts. The three-judge court entered the following order at the end of its opinion.

"Accordingly, for the reasons assigned, it is ordered that judgment in both cases be entered decreeing:

"1. That all seized materials be returned, instanter, to those from whom they were seized,

[ 401 U.S. Page 88]

     "2. That said materials be suppressed as evidence in any pending or future prosecutions of the plaintiffs,

"3. That the preliminary and permanent injunctions prayed for be denied, and

"4. That jurisdiction be retained herein for the issuance of such further orders as may be necessary and proper."

The order of the single-judge District Court is as follows:

"For the reasons assigned in the foregoing 3-Judge Court opinion, it is ordered that judgment be entered herein decreeing:

"1. That St. Bernard Parish Ordinance No. 21-60 is unconstitutional.

"2. That jurisdiction be retained herein for the issuance of such further orders as may be necessary and proper." 304 F.Supp., at 670-671.

The fact that the clerk of the District Court merged these orders into one judgment does not confer jurisdiction upon this Court. In the first place, our jurisdiction cannot be made to turn on an inadvertent error of a court clerk. Second, the jurisdictional statute by its own terms grants a direct appeal from "an order granting or denying" an injunction. 28 U. S. C. § 1253. (Emphasis added.) Since the order entered by the three-judge court omits any reference to declaratory relief, the discussion of such relief in the court's opinion is dictum.

The judgment of the court below is reversed insofar as it grants injunctive relief. In all other respects the judgment is vacated and the case remanded to the United States District Court with instructions to enter a fresh decree from which the parties may take an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit if they so desire.

It is so ordered.

Disposition

304 F.Supp. 662, reversed in part, and vacated and remanded in part.

[ 401 U.S. Page 89]

     MR. JUSTICE STEWART, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN joins, concurring.

In joining the opinion and judgment of the Court, I add these few concurring words.

The three-judge District Court's decree suppressing the use of the seized material as evidence and ordering its return to the appellees was an injunctive order, from which an appeal was properly taken directly to this Court. 28 U. S. C. § 1253. The decree was plainly wrong under Stefanelli v. Minard, 342 U.S. 117, and I agree that it must be reversed. In Stefanelli we affirmed the refusal of a federal district court to suppress the use in a pending state prosecution of evidence that the petitioners alleged had been obtained in an unlawful search. Our ruling there is clearly applicable to the facts before us:

"We hold that the federal courts should refuse to intervene in State criminal proceedings to suppress the use of evidence even when claimed to have been secured by unlawful search and seizure." 342 U.S., at 120.

See also Cleary v. Bolger, 371 U.S. 392, 400.

I also agree that the appeal from the declaratory judgment holding the parish ordinance unconstitutional is not properly before us. This Court has no power to consider the merits of that appeal for two quite distinct reasons, each sufficient to defeat our jurisdiction. First, the ordinance is neither a state statute nor of statewide application. The case thus presents a fortiori the situation in which the Court found no jurisdiction in Moody v. Flowers, 387 U.S. 97, 101. Second, the appeal is from the grant of declaratory relief, not from the grant or denial of an injunction, and jurisdiction under 28 U. S. C. § 1253 is therefore lacking. Gunn v. University Committee to End the War in Viet Nam, 399 U.S. 383; id., at 391 (WHITE, J., concurring).

[ 401 U.S. Page 90]

     This is not a case in which the District Court's action on the prayer for declaratory relief was so bound up with its action on the request for an injunction that this Court might, on direct appeal, consider the propriety of declaratory relief on pendency grounds. Cf. Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241; Samuels v. Mackell, ante, p. 66. Indeed, the District Court itself recognized that the request for a declaratory judgment regarding the local ordinance was so unrelated to the prayer for injunctive relief against the state statute that the single District Judge entered a separate order declaring the ordinance unconstitutional.

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, dissenting in part.

I

The three-judge panel was properly convened under 28 U. S. C. § 2281 to consider the validity of a Louisiana statute of general application. That court was also asked, however, to pass on an ordinance of St. Bernard Parish. But I agree with part III of the opinion of the Court written by MR. JUSTICE BLACK that we have no jurisdiction over that phase of the litigation.

It is by now elementary that a three-judge court may not be convened to consider the validity of a local ordinance or a statute of local application. Moody v. Flowers, 387 U.S. 97, 101. The three-judge court recognized that it had no jurisdiction to pass upon the constitutionality of the ordinance; but it expressed "its views . . . in the interest of judicial economy [since it was] shared by the initiating federal district judge and is adopted by reference in his opinion issued contemporaneously herewith." 304 F.Supp. 662, 670 n. 31. It then stated that "We have examined the ordinance and find it to be unconstitutional and unenforceable." Id., at 670.

The single District Judge then ordered that a judgment be entered, holding that the ordinance was unconstitutional.

[ 401 U.S. Page 91304]

     F.Supp., at 671. That order is obviously the judgment which is the basis of an appeal. Later on, the clerk also entered a judgment to that effect for the three-judge court.

The judgment entered pursuant to the order of the single District Judge should go to the Court of Appeals for review, not to this Court. Moreover, even if the judgment entered by the clerk was authorized by the three-judge court, it is not properly here. For the order or judgment concerning the ordinance would be here only if the three-judge court had pendent jurisdiction over the claim.

Pendent jurisdiction does extend to non-constitutional grounds for challenging a statute when a constitutional challenge is also raised. Siler v. Louisville & N. R. Co., 213 U.S. 175; Davis v. Wallace, 257 U.S. 478; Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U.S. 378, 393; United States v. Georgia Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 371 U.S. 285; Florida Lime Growers v. Jacobsen, 362 U.S. 73, 75-85; and Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 88-91. State causes of action have been appended to federal causes of action in a one-judge court where all causes of action arose out of the same set of facts. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715. This case, however, does not involve a challenge to one statute or a request for one award of relief on different grounds, but a challenge to two different laws on the same grounds. The only argument for considering both these laws together is that Ledesma was charged under both. This is not sufficient, under any ruling of this Court, to give jurisdiction, on direct appeal, over the ruling. The appellants did not challenge the jurisdiction of the three-judge court or the appellate jurisdiction of this Court over this claim. But subject matter jurisdiction of the federal courts may not be bestowed by the parties. United States v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 226, 229. The cases cited by appellants do not support jurisdiction

[ 401 U.S. Page 92]

     over this claim. Zemel v. Rusk, 381 U.S. 1, allowed a challenge to an administrative action, as not authorized by statute, to be joined with a constitutional attack on the statutes which purportedly authorized the action. Milky Way Productions v. Leary (together with New York Feed Co. v. Leary), 305 F.Supp. 288, was a per curiam affirmance, without opinion. 397 U.S. 98. The issues presented to this Court were conceded by all parties to be constitutional attacks on the obscenity statutes and the arrest warrant statutes of New York. Because the three-judge court had jurisdiction over the attack on the arrest warrant statutes, independent of any other claim, the issue of pendent jurisdiction was not involved and was not raised.*fn* Therefore, that problem was not considered in our per curiam, and our affirmance was not a holding on pendent jurisdiction. We cannot decide Perez on the basis of Milky Way, but only on the basis of applicable precedent and reason. And no precedent or reason is advanced for any enlargement of pendent jurisdiction.

[ 401 U.S. Page 93]

     If a rewriting of the law on pendent jurisdiction is to be done, the Congress should do it.

The present judgment should be reviewed in the Court of Appeals, not here. Rorick v. Comm'rs, 307 U.S. 208.

II

As to the orders of the three-judge court suppressing evidence in the prosecution under the Louisiana statute, which the Court sets aside, I dissent. My views, which are not congenial to the majority, are set forth at some length in Younger v. Harris, ante, p. 58, and Dyson v. Stein, post, p. 204, decided this day.

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom MR. JUSTICE WHITE and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

This case presents questions regarding federal court intervention affecting the administration of state criminal laws that were not presented in No. 2, Younger v. Harris, ante, p. 37; No. 7, Samuels v. Mackell, and No. 9, Fernandez v. Mackell, ante, p. 66; No. 4, Boyle v. Landry, ante, p. 77; No. 83, Byrne v. Karalexis, post, p. 216; and No. 41, Dyson v. Stein, post, p. 200, all decided today.

Appellees operate a newsstand in the Parish of St. Bernard, Louisiana. On January 27, 1969, sheriff's officers of the parish, without warrants, raided the newsstand, seized allegedly obscene magazines, books, and playing cards from the shelves, and arrested appellee August M. Ledesma, Jr., an owner, for displaying obscene materials for sale. On February 10, 1969, four informations were filed in the state district court, two charging Ledesma with the crime of obscenity in violation of a Louisiana statute, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:106 (Supp. 1970), and two charging him with obscenity in violation of St. Bernard Parish Ordinance 21-60. The statute and ordinance appear as an Appendix to this opinion. On February

[ 401 U.S. Page 9417]

     , 1969, appellees filed the instant action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, New Orleans Division. Their complaint sought a judgment under the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U. S. C. § 2201, declaring the state statute and parish ordinance unconstitutional; an injunction against pending and future prosecutions under either enactment; and an injunction directing the return of the seized magazines, books, and playing cards and suppressing their use as evidence in any pending or future criminal prosecution against the appellees. A three-judge court was convened. Prior to the federal court hearing, the appellant entered a nolle prosequi in the state court on the two informations charging violation of the parish ordinance.

The three-judge court filed an opinion holding (a) that the Louisiana statute was constitutional on its face; (b) that the parish ordinance was unconstitutional on its face; and (c) that the arrest of appellee Ledesma and the seizure of the magazines, books, and playing cards were unconstitutional in the absence of a prior judicial adversary hearing determining that the seized materials were obscene. 304 F.Supp. 662 (1969). The court stated that because it was confident the appellants would comply with the court's views it was "unnecessary to issue any injunctions" against "pending or future prosecutions or future arrests and seizures." 304 F.Supp., at 670. In pertinent part the judgment entered on August 14, 1969, therefore decreed:

"1. That all seized materials be returned, instanter, by the [appellants] to those [appellees] from whom they were seized,

"2. That said materials be suppressed as evidence in any pending or future prosecutions of the [appellees],

[ 401 U.S. Page 95]

     "3. That the preliminary and permanent injunctions prayed for be denied,

"4. That St. Bernard Parish Ordinance No. 21-60 is unconstitutional." App. 106-107.

We postponed consideration of the question of jurisdiction to the hearing on the merits. 399 U.S. 924 (1970). In addition to the questions presented in the jurisdictional statement, our order requested ...


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