CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET
As a subscriber to the CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET since Volume I, Number 1 was published in the fall of 1955, I recall that first issue reported 281 cases in which the parties alleged denials of civil liberties or due process of law, or failure to provide equal protection. At that time, the DOCKET was published five times a year. By Volume X, the frequency was down to three times a year due to the increase in constitutional litigation. This issue, Volume XIII, is published as an annual book because it contains 1,523 cases, and there are insufficient resources to cover such a quantity of litigation more frequently.
I have always found the DOCKET interesting and useful reading. The so-called "little" cases reported in the DOCKET have a considerable significance. Frequently the local bench and bar are better acquainted with a trial court decision in an unreported case than with recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court. A community with an active group of constitutional lawyers can educate the bar to raise constitutional questions and to give them their proper importance in our judicial scheme.
It is also useful to know what is happening in courts around the country on matters which concern us locally. Often I find that lawyers in other places have filed litigation around the same issues which concern us, sometimes with a new approach that can be useful here in California.
The DOCKET provides summaries of opinions which may not be reported elsewhere. With the demise of the Race Relations Law Reporter after 12 years of useful service, the CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET has become the only method of keeping up with cases on civil rights. It has always been unique in describing civil liberties and due process cases.
Seeing all of the current constitutional litigation reported in one place permits the practicing lawyer to observe the interrelation between the struggle for the substance of freedom and equality and for the procedures required by the due process clauses. My experience demonstrates the point the DOCKET assumes, that civil liberties and equal protection are most frequently maintained through insistence on strict adherence to due process.
It is good to note that this issue of the DOCKET gives full coverage to the law of the poor (at pp. 110-134). It is only within the last decade that the United States Supreme Court has begun to work consistently to achieve true equal protection for indigents enmeshed in criminal proceedings. It is only within the last three years that notable strides have been made in providing adequate legal service for indigents whose rights are denied by administrative agencies and landlords.
Just as the struggles for the rights of black citizens have resulted in benefits for us all, so the current litigation in defense of the rights of the poor should bring greater protections to all Americans.
It may be timely to quote here from the DOCKET published in July, 1965 concerning its function:"We hear a crescendo of voices calling for the preservation or restoration of law and order in our land. We heartily concur. That's why we publish this DOCKET—to assist the legal profession in the never-ending task of enforcing the law and obtaining order. Our concern is with enforcing the law of fair employment practices, of equal educational opportunity, of no discrimination in housing, of equal access to the courts.
"And our concern is with the order which comes out of dialog, out of the exercise of free speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
This DOCKET volume again chronicles in infinite—often painful—detail, this part of the struggle for law and order.
ROBERT W. KENNY
Superior Court of
Los Angeles County