Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973)

Author: U.S. Supreme Court

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Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973)

Gagnon v. Scarpelli

No. 71-1225

Argued January 9, 1973
Decided May 14, 1973
411 U.S. 778



Respondent, a felony probationer, was arrested after committing a burglary. He admitted involvement in the crime, but later claimed that the admission was made under duress, and was false. The probation of respondent, who was not represented by an attorney, was revoked without a hearing. After filing a habeas corpus petition, he was paroled. The District Court concluded that revocation of probation without hearing and counsel was a denial of due process. The Court of Appeals affirmed.


1. Due process mandates preliminary and final revocation hearings in the case of a probationer under the same conditions as are specified in Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, in the case of a parolee. Pp. 781-782.

2. The body conducting the hearings should decide in each individual case whether due process requires that an indigent probationer or parolee be represented by counsel. Though the State is not constitutionally obliged to provide counsel in all cases, it should do so where the indigent probationer or parolee may have difficulty in presenting his version of disputed facts without the examination or cross-examination of witnesses or the presentation of complicated documentary evidence. Presumptively, counsel should be provided where, after being informed of his right, the probationer or parolee requests counsel, based on a timely and colorable claim that he has not committed the alleged violation or, if the violation is a matter of public record or uncontested, there are substantial reasons in justification or mitigation that make revocation inappropriate. Pp. 783-791.

3 In every case where a request for counsel is refused, the grounds for refusal should be stated succinctly in the record. P. 791.

454 F.2d 416, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a statement dissenting in part, post, p. 791.


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Chicago: U.S. Supreme Court, "Syllabus," Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973) in 411 U.S. 778 411 U.S. 779. Original Sources, accessed November 28, 2023,

MLA: U.S. Supreme Court. "Syllabus." Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973), in 411 U.S. 778, page 411 U.S. 779. Original Sources. 28 Nov. 2023.

Harvard: U.S. Supreme Court, 'Syllabus' in Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973). cited in 1973, 411 U.S. 778, pp.411 U.S. 779. Original Sources, retrieved 28 November 2023, from