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St. Pierre v. United States

U.S.
May 3, 1943
319 U.S. 41 (1943)

Summary

In St. Pierre the Court noted that the petitioner could have taken steps to preserve his case, but that "he did not apply to this Court for a stay or a supersedeas."

Summary of this case from Sibron v. New York

Opinion

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.

No. 687.

Argued April 15, 1943. Decided May 3, 1943.

1. The sentence which this Court granted certiorari to review having been fully served, and petitioner not having shown that under either state or federal law further penalties or disabilities can be imposed on him as a result of the judgment, the cause is moot and the writ of certiorari is dismissed. P. 42. 2. The moral stigma of a judgment which no longer affects legal rights does not present a case or controversy for appellate review. P. 43. Dismissed.

CERTIORARI, 318 U.S. 751, to review the affirmance ( 132 F.2d 837) of a sentence to imprisonment for contempt of court.

Mr. Edward V. Broderick, with whom Messrs. S. Bertram Friedman and Joseph H. Broderick were on the brief, for petitioner.

Solicitor General Fahy, Assistant Attorney General Berge, and Messrs. Robert L. Stern and Oscar A. Provost and Misses Melva M. Graney and Beatrice Rosenberg were on the brief, for the United States.


Petitioner, who it is alleged had in his testimony before a federal grand jury confessed to the commission of the crime of embezzlement, refused to divulge the name of the person whose money he had embezzled. For the refusal the district court sentenced him to five months' imprisonment for contempt of court, and the circuit court of appeals affirmed the judgment. 132 F.2d 837. We granted certiorari, 318 U.S. 751, on a petition which raised important questions with respect to petitioner's constitutional immunity from self-incrimination. In the order allowing the writ we requested counsel to discuss the question whether the case had become moot.

On the argument it was conceded that petitioner had fully served his sentence before certiorari was granted. We are of opinion that the case is moot because, after petitioner's service of his sentence and its expiration, there was no longer a subject matter on which the judgment of this Court could operate. A federal court is without power to decide moot questions or to give advisory opinions which cannot affect the rights of the litigants in the case before it. United States v. Alaska S.S. Co., 253 U.S. 113, 115-16, and cases cited; United States v. Hamburg-American Co., 239 U.S. 466, 475-77. The sentence cannot be enlarged by this Court's judgment, and reversal of the judgment below cannot operate to undo what has been done or restore to petitioner the penalty of the term of imprisonment which he has served. Nor has petitioner shown that under either state or federal law further penalties or disabilities can be imposed on him as a result of the judgment which has now been satisfied. In these respects the case differs from that of an injunction whose command continues to operate in futuro even though obeyed. Federal Trade Comm'n v. Goodyear Co., 304 U.S. 257, 260, and cases cited.

It does not appear that petitioner could not have brought his case to this Court for review before the expiration of his sentence, and although it is said he applied for bail to the district court and to the circuit court of appeals, he did not apply to this Court for a stay or a supersedeas. The Government admits that petitioner will be required to testify again before the grand jury and that in the event of his refusal it will ask that he be committed until he answers. In that case, there will be ample opportunity to review such a judgment; and even though he be sentenced to a fixed term, the questions which he seeks to raise here may be preserved by his admission to bail, or by the grant of a stay or a supersedeas, for which he may apply to this Court if necessary. In all these respects the case differs from Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 219 U.S. 498, which we do not regard as controlling here.

Petitioner also suggests that the judgment may impair his credibility as witness in any future legal proceeding. But the moral stigma of a judgment which no longer affects legal rights does not present a case or controversy for appellate review. Since the cause is moot, the writ will be

Dismissed.


Summaries of

St. Pierre v. United States

U.S.
May 3, 1943
319 U.S. 41 (1943)

In St. Pierre the Court noted that the petitioner could have taken steps to preserve his case, but that "he did not apply to this Court for a stay or a supersedeas."

Summary of this case from Sibron v. New York

In St. Pierre v. U.S., 319 U.S. 41, 42-43, 63 S.Ct. 910, 911, 87 L.Ed. 1199, 1201 (1943), the Supreme Court held that the completion of a contempt sentence rendered the case moot because "reversal of the judgment below cannot operate to undo what has been done or restore to petitioner the penalty of the term of imprisonment which he has served."

Summary of this case from In re Stewart

In St. Pierre v. United States, 1943, 319 U.S. 41, 63 S.Ct. 910, 87 L.Ed. 1199, the Supreme Court held that completion of a six months' sentence prior to argument on the merits of the appeal rendered the appeal moot "because, after petitioner's service of his sentence and its expiration, there was no longer a subject matter on which the judgment of this Court could operate.

Summary of this case from Government of Canal Zone v. Castillo

In St. Pierre, the petitioner had been imprisoned for five months for contempt for refusing to divulge to a grand jury the name of the person whose money he had embezzled.

Summary of this case from United States v. Lampley

In St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41, 42, 63 S.Ct. 910, 911, 87 L.Ed. 1199 (1943) the Court held moot an appeal from a conviction for criminal contempt stating that "the case is moot because, after petitioner's service of his sentence and its expiration, there was no longer a subject matter on which the judgment of this Court could operate."

Summary of this case from United States v. Frumento

In St. Pierre the Court held that completion of a six month sentence for contempt prior to argument on the merits of the appeal from the contempt conviction rendered the appeal moot, saying "the case is moot because, after petitioner's service of his sentence and its expiration, there was no longer a subject matter on which the judgment of this Court could operate".

Summary of this case from United States v. Camil

In St. Pierre, where the sentence which had been served was for contempt of court, in holding the case moot the Court said, "petitioner [has not] shown that under either state or federal law further penalties or disabilities can be imposed on him as a result of the judgment which has now been satisfied."

Summary of this case from Dancy v. United States

permitting adjudication of the merits of a criminal case where "under either state or federal law further penalties or disabilities can be imposed . . . as a result of the judgment which has . . . been satisfied"

Summary of this case from Baker v. Spath

In St. Pierre, the High Court dismissed the petition for certiorari as moot because the petitioner's sentence had expired.

Summary of this case from Hough v. Nevada

speaking in terms of the fifth amendment

Summary of this case from Remington Arms Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co.

In St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41, 63 S.Ct. 910, 87 L.Ed. 1199 (1943), the United States Supreme Court considered whether petitioner's appeal was moot where he had fully served his sentence before certiorari was granted.

Summary of this case from State v. Malone

In St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41, 63 S.Ct. 910, 87 L.Ed. 1199 (1943), the U.S. Supreme Court held that because the petitioner had fully served his sentence before his appeal reached the Court, the case had become moot because there no longer existed a subject matter on which judgment of the Court could be found.

Summary of this case from State v. Patterson

In St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41, 63 S.Ct. 910, 87 L.Ed. 1199 (1943), the Supreme Court, writing in a criminal case in which the penalty had been fully discharged, and holding the case moot, said: '... But the moral stigma of a judgment which no longer affects legal rights does not present a case or controversy for appellate review.

Summary of this case from Carrillo v. State

In St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41 (1943), a case in which the petitioner had completely satisfied his sentence before the case reached the Supreme Court, the appeal was held to be moot because the petitioner could not show collateral criminal consequences as a result of the conviction.

Summary of this case from Commonwealth v. Sheehan

In St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41, 87 L ed 1199, defendant was sentenced to five months imprisonment for contempt of court.

Summary of this case from State v. Huffman

In St. Pierre v. United States, 319 U.S. 41, 63 S.Ct. 910, 911, 87 L.Ed. 1199, petitioner had been sentenced to five months' imprisonment by the trial court for contempt. Before certiorari was granted, petitioner had fully served his sentence.

Summary of this case from Hill v. United States

In St. Pierre, the petitioner served and completed five months' imprisonment for contempt of court for failing to divulge the name of the persons whose money he had embezzled, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari on the petitioner's question of whether he was constitutionally immune from self-incrimination.

Summary of this case from People v. Miller
Case details for

St. Pierre v. United States

Case Details

Full title:ST. PIERRE v . UNITED STATES

Court:U.S.

Date published: May 3, 1943

Citations

319 U.S. 41 (1943)
63 S. Ct. 910

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