HUMPHREY V. CADY, 405 U. S. 504 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Humphrey v. Cady, 405 U.S. 504 (1972)

Humphrey v. Cady

No. 70-5004

Argued December 7, 1971

Decided March 22, 1972

405 U.S. 504


Petitioner was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of one year. In lieu of sentence, he was committed to the "sex deviate facility" in the state prison, for a potentially indefinite period, pursuant to the Wisconsin Sex Crimes Act. That Act provides that, when a court finds that a convicted person was "probably directly motivated by a desire for sexual excitement," it may commit the defendant to the Department of Health and Social Services for a social, physical, and mental examination, and, if the Department recommends specialized treatment, the court must hold a hearing on the need therefor. If the State establishes the need for treatment, the court must commit the defendant for treatment in lieu of sentence for a period equal to the maximum sentence authorized for the crime. At the end of that period, the Department may petition for a renewal of the commitment for five years. After notice and hearing, the court may renew the commitment if it finds that discharge would be "dangerous to the public." Further five-year renewals may be similarly obtained. Petitioner is subject to a five-year renewal order, obtained at the expiration of his one-year sentence. He challenges the original and renewal commitment procedures. He argues that commitment for compulsory treatment under the Sex Crimes Act, at least after the original commitment, is essentially equivalent to commitment under Wisconsin's Mental Health Act, which provides for jury determinations, and that his commitment without jury action deprives him of equal protection of the laws. He also claims that he was denied effective assistance of counsel at both hearings and the opportunity to be present and to confront the State's witnesses at the renewal hearing. He charges equal protection and due process violations as a result of his commitment to state prison, rather than to a mental hospital, as provided by the Mental Health Act. At the renewal hearing, his counsel argued that a new commitment would constitute double jeopardy, and indicated a broad constitutional challenge to the Sex Crimes Act. However, no further action on petitioner's behalf was taken. The District Court dismissed

Page 405 U. S. 505

his habeas corpus petition on the grounds that his claims were lacking in merit, and that they had been waived by failure to present them adequately to the state courts. The Court of Appeals refused to certify probable cause for an appeal, on the ground that the claims were frivolous.


1. Petitioner's claims are substantial enough to warrant an evidentiary hearing. Baxstrom v. Herold, 383 U. S. 107; Specht v. Patterson, 386 U. S. 605. Pp. 405 U. S. 508-514.

(a) The renewal proceedings bear substantial resemblance to the post-sentencing proceedings in Baxstrom, supra, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that even the initial commitment is not just a sentencing alternative, but an independent commitment for treatment, comparable to commitment under the Mental Health Act. Pp. 405 U. S. 508-511.

(b) The Mental Health Act and the Sex Crimes Act are apparently not mutually exclusive, and an equal protection claim would be persuasive if it develops on remand that petitioner was deprived of a jury determination or other procedural protections merely by the arbitrary decision to seek commitment under one Act, rather than the other. P. 405 U. S. 512.

(c) Remand will provide ample opportunity to develop facts relevant to respondent's claim of mootness, as well as to petitioner's other constitutional claims. Pp. 405 U. S. 512-514.

2. Federal habeas corpus is not barred by every state procedural default, and an evidentiary hearing is required to determine whether petitioner knowingly and intelligently made a deliberate strategic waiver of his claims in state court. Pp. 405 U. S. 514-517.

Reversed and remanded to District Court.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all Members joined except POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 405 U. S. 506

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