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United States Supreme Court

401 U.S. 395

Tate  v.  Short

 Argued: Jan. 14, 1971. --- Decided: March 2, 1971


Petitioner, an indigent, was convicted of traffic offenses and fined a total of $425. Though Texas law provides only for fines for such offenses, it requires that persons unabe to pay must be incarcerated for sufficient time to satisfy their fines, at the rate of $5 per day, which in petitioner's case meant an 85-day term. The state courts denied his petition for habeas corpus. Held: It is a denial of equal protection to limit punishment to payment of a fine for those who are able to pay it but to convert the fine to imprisonment for those who are unable to pay it. Williams v. Illinois, 399 U.S. 235, pp. 2-6, 90 S.Ct. 2018, 26 L.Ed.2d 586. 445 S.W.2d 210, reversed and remanded.

Norman Dorsen, New York City, for petitioner.

Joseph G. Rollins, Houston, Tex., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).