Lloyd Powell (defendant) was convicted of murder in California state court, and his conviction was affirmed on appeal. David Rice (defendant) was convicted of murder in Nebraska state court, and his conviction was also affirmed on appeal. Both Powell and Rice claimed that their convictions were based on illegally obtained evidence and filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus in federal district court on that ground. The respective federal district courts and courts of appeal considered Powell's and Rice's claims regarding the illegally obtained evidence in ruling on the petitions. Stone and Wolff (plaintiffs), the wardens of Powell's and Rice's prisons, petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review of the decisions. The Court granted certiorari.