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Case of Mempa v. Rhay Essay

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In the case of Mempa v. Rhay, which the accused pleaded guilty with the advice of court-appointed counsel to the crime of “joyriding” and was placed on probation for two years. Then soon after the sentence was deferred because he was involved in a burglary and sentenced to 10 years in prison but only would receive 1 year with the advice from the parole. This was achieved due the fact that the probation officer questioned by the probationer about the incident and the parolee admitted his involvement. The offender filed a petition of habeas corpus in the State Supreme Court claiming that he had been denied the right to counsel during the probation revocation hearing, the court denied the petition. In later years the offender reoffended and convicted of second degree burglary and then placed on probation, while on probation he was arrested for forgery and grand larceny.

Again at the revocation hearing the defendant had council but never showed but the proceedings still took place. The defendant filed another writ of habeas corpus in the State Supreme Court claiming that he had been denied the right to counsel, the Supreme Court stated that “any indigent is entitled at every stage of a criminal proceeding to be represented by court-appointed counsel, where substantial rights of a criminal accused may be affected.”

Moreover, the Supreme Court considered the legal interests of the probationers and decided that a probation revocation hearing constituted a “critical stage” which dictated adherence to due process protections. I agree with the court’s decision. I believe that counsel should always be present in any legal proceeding due the complexities of laws. Also, counsel also helps prevent against defendants being taken advantage of and mislead into believing something that’s not entirely fact. The only real way to get a fair trial is to be fairly represented in law. Source:

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In the proceedings of Gagnon v. Scarpelli, which was a case were a felony probationer was arrested after committing a burglary. When questioned he admit his involvement in the crime, but then later claimed that the confession was made under force, and did not partake in the crime. The probationer was taken of probation and placed in prison. The defendant filed a habeas corpus petition due the reason that the probation revocation was done without counsel and no formal hearing. The petition was upheld and was placed back on parolee The District Court concluded that revocation of probation without hearing and counsel was a denial of due process; The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Moreover, the Supreme Court decided that where “liberty interests” are involved, probationers are entitled to retain certain due process rights. These rights include: (A) written notification of the alleged violations; (B) preliminary hearing which a judicial authority will determine whether sufficient probable cause exists to pursue the case; and (C) if warranted, a revocation hearing. I believe that the court made the right decision; parolees should have the right to be aware of accusations take against them. They should also be able to defend themselves in any proceedings, specifically any proceedings that could reduce freedoms such as being placed back into prison. Source:


Black v. Romano was case which the defendant was placed on probation for a substance abuse offense. While on probation, he was charged with leaving the scene of an automobile accident which is a felony crime. After a hearing, the judge who had originally sentenced the offender, the judge found that accused had violated his probation conditions by committing a felony. The judge then revoked probation and ordered the defendant to be placed into prison. After unsuccessfully seeking post-conviction relief in state court, defendant filed a habeas corpus petition in Federal District Court, claiming that the state judge had violated due process requirements by revoking probation without considering alternatives to incarceration.

The District Court agreed and ordered respondent released from custody. The Court of Appeals affirmed. In this case, I don’t agree with the outcome. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not indicate that a judge has to consider alternatives to incarceration before revoking probation. Also, the original terms of the probation were that defendant receives probation with a suspended prison term. Meaning if the defendant violates the terms, he most fulfills the second part of the sentence which was prison. Additionally, the offender committed two separate crimes on two separate occasions therefore should receive punishments for each offense.

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