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Supreme Court of the United States
January 11-12, 1960, Argued ; March 21, 1960, Decided
[*199] [***655] [**625] MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner was found guilty in the Police Court of Louisville, Kentucky, of two offenses -- loitering and disorderly conduct. The ultimate question presented to us is whether the charges against petitioner were so totally devoid of evidentiary support as to render his conviction unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Decision of this [****2] question turns not on the sufficiency of the evidence, but on whether this conviction rests upon any evidence at all.
The facts as shown by the record are short and simple. Petitioner, a long-time resident of the Louisville area, went into the Liberty End Cafe about 6:20 on Saturday evening, January 24, 1959. In addition to selling food the cafe was licensed to sell beer to the public and [*200] some 12 to 30 patrons were present during the time petitioner was there. When petitioner had been in the cafe about half an hour, two Louisville police officers came in on a "routine check." Upon [**626] seeing petitioner "out there on the floor dancing by himself," one of the officers, according to his testimony, went up to the manager who was sitting on a stool nearby and asked him how long petitioner had been in there [***656] and if he had bought anything. The officer testified that upon being told by the manager that petitioner had been there "a little over a half-hour and that he had not bought anything," he accosted Thompson and "asked him what was his reason for being in there and he said he was waiting on a bus." The officer then informed petitioner that he was under arrest [****3] and took him outside. This was the arrest for loitering. After going outside, the officer testified, petitioner "was very argumentative -- he argued with us back and forth and so then we placed a disorderly conduct charge on him." Admittedly the disorderly conduct conviction rests solely on this one sentence description of petitioner's conduct after he left the cafe.
The foregoing evidence includes all that the city offered against him, except a record purportedly showing a total of 54 previous arrests of petitioner. Before putting on his defense, petitioner moved for a dismissal of the charges against him on the ground that a judgment of conviction on this record would deprive him of property and liberty 1 [****4] without due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment in that (1) there was no evidence to support findings of guilt and (2) the two arrests and prosecutions were reprisals against him because petitioner had employed counsel and demanded a judicial hearing to [*201] defend himself against prior and allegedly baseless charges by the police. 2 This motion was denied.
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362 U.S. 199 *; 80 S. Ct. 624 **; 4 L. Ed. 2d 654 ***; 1960 U.S. LEXIS 1448 ****; 80 A.L.R.2d 1355
THOMPSON v. CITY OF LOUISVILLE ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE POLICE COURT OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY.
cafe, arrest, due process, loitering, disorderly conduct, police court, convicted, fines, ordinance, charges
Criminal Law & Procedure, Crimes Against Persons, Disruptive Conduct, General Overview, Trials, Burdens of Proof, Prosecution, Evidence, Weight & Sufficiency