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Blackledge v. Perry

Case Name
Blackledge v. Perry
417 U.S. 21
Unanimous Decision
Authoring Judge
Potter Stewart
Judge(s) - Majority
Potter Stewart, Warren Burger, William Douglas, William Brennan, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun
Judge(s) - Dissent
William Rehnquist, Lewis Powell
U.S. Supreme Court
On Review From
4th Circuit
Decision Year


Defendant was charged with the misdemeanor of assault with a deadly weapon after engaging in an altercation with a fellow prison inmate. The Defendant was convicted of this misdemeanor following a trial. The Defendant appealed his conviction under a state law that gave him the right to a trial de novo. After the Defendant filed his notice of appeal, the state obtained a grand jury indictment, charging the Defendant with felony assault with a deadly weapon. These charges arose from the same prison altercation that caused the Defendant to be convicted of the misdemeanor that he was appealing. The Defendant pled guilty to the felony charge. The Defendant filed a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court, arguing that the felony charge constituted double jeopardy and also deprived him of his due process rights. The Supreme Court held that it was constitutionally impermissible for the State to respond to the Defendant’s appeal by bringing a more serious felony charge against him before he could have his trial de novo. Thus, the Defendant’s due process rights were violated. Because the State impermissibly required the Defendant to answer for a felony charge, his guilty plea did not preclude him from attacking his conviction with a federal writ of habeas corpus.

Key Quote

“A person convicted of an offense is entitled to pursue his statutory right to a trial de novo, without apprehension that the State will retaliate by substituting a more serious charge for the original one, thus subjecting him to a significantly increased potential period of incarceration. ” p.28