The year 2022 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1972 landmark prisoners’ rights case, Morrissey v. Brewer.1 Morrissey was a Fourteenth Amendment due process challenge involving an Iowan whose parole was revoked without a hearing.2 But long before Mr. Morrissey was in prison, a legislative internship at the University of Nebraska College of Law (Nebraska Law) in 1968 got me involved in researching and drafting the Nebraska Treatment and Corrections Act of 1969, including state parole law. The one area of parole law not reformed by the new legislation was parole revocation, a shortcoming that was the catalyst for my Nebraska Law Review article contending that due process required procedural safeguards and a hearing before parole revocation.3 After my graduation from Nebraska Law, two coincidences kept me involved with the issue of parole revocation. The first occurred during my post-graduate judicial clerkship with United States Court of Appeals Judge Floyd Gibson, when the Morrissey case came before the Eighth Circuit. The second was when the case was granted certiorari; and as an attorney with the Legal Services Organization of Indianapolis, I co-authored an amicus curiae brief in support of Morrissey and held a moot court for Morrissey’s appointed counsel the day before the oral argument to the Supreme Court. Out of all the above comes a story that describes an exceptional internship at Nebraska Law. This internship was not only formative for my professional career, but the experiential learning proved to be the springboard for a surprising personal journey that culminated in a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court. Because I want to express my gratitude for that educational experience, its special quality, and its surprising national impact, I am eager to share this story with the Nebraska Law School community and beyond and to recall the trailblazing significance of the Morrissey ruling. It also provides the appropriate occasion to assess the continuing relevancy of Morrissey today.
Russell E. Lovell II,
In Celebration of Morrissey v. Brewer at Fifty: A Surprising University of Nebraska College of Law Back Story to the Prisoners’ Rights Due Process Landmark,
100 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol100/iss4/6