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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; argued the cause for the respondents)
(Pennsylvania; argued the cause for the petitioner)
Facts of the Case 

William Fiore and his co-defendant, David Scarpone, were convicted of operating a hazardous waste facility without a permit in violation of Pennsylvania State law after deliberately altering a monitoring pipe. Fiore appealed his conviction to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which affirmed the conviction. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court then denied further review of Fiore's case, and his conviction became final. Scarpone appealed his conviction to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which noted the existence of a "valid permit" and set aside the conviction. On appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed and found that Scarpone's conduct did not constitute the operation of the facility without a permit because the law Fiore and Scarpone were convicted under does not apply to those who possess a permit but deviate radically from the permit's terms. Fiore had asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review his case after it had agreed to review Scarpone's case and twice more after it decided Scarpone. The court denied Fiore's requests. Ultimately, Fiore sought federal habeas relief, arguing that the U.S. Constitution required that his conviction be set aside because his conduct was not criminal under the statutory section charged. The District Court granted his petition. In reversing, the Court of Appeals concluded that state courts have no obligation to apply their decisions retroactively.


Should federal habeas corpus relief be extended to protect a defendant whose conviction was upheld even though his co-defendant's conviction under the same law was invalidated after a state court ruled that he had been prosecuted under the wrong law? Does the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause require that the defendant's conviction be set aside?

Decision: 9 votes for Fiore, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

The questions were left pending. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the Court certified to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court the question whether the court's interpretation of the statute set forth in Scarpone's case stated the correct interpretation of Pennsylvania law on the date which Fiore's conviction became final. The Court also reserved judgment and further proceedings in the case pending a response by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Justice Breyer wrote for the Court that "the answer to this question will help determine the proper state-law predicate for our determination of the federal constitutional questions raised in this case."

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FIORE v. WHITE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
FIORE v. WHITE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"FIORE v. WHITE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,