MURPHY V. HUNT, 455 U. S. 478 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Murphy v. Hunt, 455 U.S. 478 (1982)

Murphy v. Hunt

No. 80-2165

Argued January 18, 1982

Decided March 2, 1982

455 U.S. 478


Appellee was charged with first-degree sexual offenses under Nebraska law. His pretrial requests for bail were denied by state courts pursuant to a provision of the Nebraska Constitution prohibiting bail in cases of first-degree sexual offenses "where the proof is evident or the presumption is great" (which appellee conceded). Pending trial, appellee filed suit in Federal District Court under 42 U.S. C § 1983 (1976 ed., Supp. V), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief on the ground that the Nebraska constitutional provision violated his federal constitutional rights under the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. On October 17, 1980, the District Court dismissed appellee's civil rights complaint. In the meantime, however, appellee had been convicted of two of the three charges against him in state court prosecutions, and on November 13, 1980, he was convicted of the remaining charge. Appellee appealed these convictions to the Nebraska Supreme Court, and the appeals are pending before that court. On May 13, 1981, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the exclusion of violent sexual offenses from bail before trial violates the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment.

Held: Appellee's constitutional claim became moot following his state court convictions. A favorable decision on his claim to pretrial bail would not have entitled him to bail once he was convicted. And he did not pray for damages or seek to represent a class of pretrial detainees in his federal court action. Nor does this case fall within the "capable of repetition, yet evading review" exception to the general rule of mootness when the issues are no longer "live" or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome of the case. Application of this exception depends upon a "reasonable expectation" or "demonstrated probability" that the same controversy will recur involving the same complaining party. There is no reasonable expectation that all of appellee's convictions will be overturned on appeal and that he will again be in the position to seek pretrial bail.

648 F.2d 1148, vacated and remanded.

Page 455 U. S. 479

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