Haines v. Kerner

Court Case Details
  • Case Name: Haines v. Kerner
  • Court: Supreme Court of the United States
  • Filed: February 22, 1972
  • Precedential Status: Published
  • Citations: 404 U.S. 519, 92 S. Ct. 594, 30 L. Ed. 2d 652, 1972 U.S. LEXIS 99
  • Docket #: 70-5025
  • Judges: Per Curiam
Court Case Opinion
404 U.S. 519 (1972)

HAINES
v.
KERNER ET AL.

No. 70-5025.

Supreme Court of United States.

Argued December 6, 1971
Decided January 13, 1972
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.

Stanley A. Bass, by appointment of the Court, 401 U. S. 1008, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Jack Greenberg, James M. Nabrit III, William B. Turner, Alice Daniel, and Max Stern.

Warren K. Smoot, Assistant Attorney General of Illinois, argued the cause for respondents pro hac vice. With him on the brief were William J. Scott, Attorney General, Joel M. Flaum, First Assistant Attorney General, and James B. Zagel, Morton E. Friedman, and Jayne A. Carr, Assistant Attorneys General.

Briefs of amici curiae were filed by Charles H. Baron for Boston College Center for Corrections and the Law, and by Julian Tepper and Marshall J. Hartman for the National Law Office of the National Legal Aid and Defender Assn.

PER CURIAM.

Petitioner, an inmate at the Illinois State Penitentiary, Menard, Illinois, commenced this action against the Governor of Illinois and other state officers and prison officials under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 17 Stat. 13, 42 U. S. C. § 1983, and 28 U. S. C. § 1343 (3), seeking to recover damages for claimed injuries and deprivation of rights while incarcerated under a judgment not challenged here. *520 Petitioner's pro se complaint was premised on alleged action of prison officials placing him in solitary confinement as a disciplinary measure after he had struck another inmate on the head with a shovel following a verbal altercation. The assault by petitioner on another inmate is not denied. Petitioner's pro se complaint included general allegations of physical injuries suffered while in disciplinary confinement and denial of due process in the steps leading to that confinement. The claimed physical suffering was aggravation of a pre-existing foot injury and a circulatory ailment caused by forcing him to sleep on the floor of his cell with only blankets.

The District Court granted respondents' motion under Rule 12 (b) (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, suggesting that only under exceptional circumstances should courts inquire into the internal operations of state penitentiaries and concluding that petitioner had failed to show a deprivation of federally protected rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed, emphasizing that prison officials are vested with "wide discretion" in disciplinary matters. We granted certiorari and appointed counsel to represent petitioner. The only issue now before us is petitioner's contention that the District Court erred in dismissing his pro se complaint without allowing him to present evidence on his claims.

Whatever may be the limits on the scope of inquiry of courts into the internal administration of prisons, allegations such as those asserted by petitioner, however inartfully pleaded, are sufficient to call for the opportunity to offer supporting evidence. We cannot say with assurance that under the allegations of the pro se complaint, which we hold to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers, it appears *521 "beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U. S. 41, 45-46 (1957). See Dioguardi v. Durning, 139 F. 2d 774 (CA2 1944).

Accordingly, although we intimate no view whatever on the merits of petitioner's allegations, we conclude that he is entitled to an opportunity to offer proof. The judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent herewith.

Reversed and remanded.

MR. JUSTICE POWELL and MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Referenced Cases

Citing Cases

Cases Citing This Case (50 of 1000+)

  1. Robert M. Linder v. State of Tennessee
  2. HOUSEKNECHT v. Doe
  3. Alleman v. State
  4. Nevarez v. Hunt
  5. Wallace Russell Childs, Jr. v. United States Board of Parole v. United States Board of Parole
  6. James T. Martin, Jr. v. D.C. Metropolitan Police Department v. D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
  7. Edward W. Spannaus v. Federal Election Commission
  8. Carl H. Alley v. Dodge Hotel
  9. Moore v. Ruth
  10. Emma Hannah v. State of Mississippi
  11. George L. Reynolds v. Jack C. Ellingsworth
  12. Kwok Sze v. Pui-Ling Pang
  13. United States v. DuJann Lewis
  14. Clarence Marshall v. Joseph R. Brierley
  15. United States v. Larry Stuler
  16. In Re: George K. Trammell III
  17. James L. Alexander v. Margaret H. Jeffries
  18. Demont R.D. Conner v. Theodore Sakai
  19. 39 Fair empl. prac. cas. 764 v. Board of Dental Examiners of California
  20. Amador v. Scott
  21. Jessie E. Wright v. El Paso County Jail, Sheriff
  22. Gary Gaines v. United States
  23. Johnson v. Forrest County
  24. Gonzalez v. Corr Corp of America
  25. Bourrage v. McFarland
  26. Hunter v. Martinez
  27. Richard Jimenez v. Dr. George J. Beto
  28. Villalpando v. Eckerd's 3267
  29. Charles Ben Howell v. Clarence Jones, Sheriff
  30. Robert Thomas v. Bill Shaw
  31. Washington McCaskill v. W. Ryder
  32. Cook v. Yusuff
  33. Steward v. Bryan
  34. Dayral Nathan v. R. Hancock
  35. United States v. Curtis Glinsey
  36. Odneal v. Dretke
  37. Perez v. United States
  38. In Re Loy
  39. William Adams v. Bill Armontrout and William L. Webster
  40. Harley McLain v. Ben Meier
  41. Gregory James Davis v. Timothy Schuetzle
  42. Donald Earl Atkinson v. Susan Bohn Phil Jefferson
  43. Lyndale Walker v. M.D. Reed
  44. Patrick Haltiwanger v. Max Mobley
  45. Lenny Dixon A/K/A R. Moody v. Dr. Robert Fox
  46. Jerry X. Ellis v. Larry Norris
  47. In Re Wright
  48. James Robert Swofford v. Sheriff Charles F. Mandrell
  49. Chelsie Baxter v. Vigo County School Corporation
  50. William D. Lawrence v. Susan K. Carpenter