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CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET
Vol. VI, No. 3
April, 1961

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS ISSUE


Criticism and Self-criticism

Police practices often come under criticism by defendants and their lawyers. This DOCKET reports developments in several suits in which this issue arose:

The Chicago police ransacked Pl's. apartment, searched Pl., his wife and children, hit them with verbal and physical blows, held Pl. incommunicado, and finally released him without charges. Pl's. damage action against the policeman and the City was dismissed. The United States Supreme Court has just reversed, holding the Civil Rights Act covers these facts, and that the police were acting "under color of law". The Court dismissed the City as a party Def. Monroe v. Pape, 303.26.

The San Francisco police and their fire hosing of students during the 1960 "Black Friday" demonstration against the House UnAmerican Activities hearing became the focal point in the trial of Meisenbach, 51.11.

The Ventura County police were found to have used more force than was necessary to extract blood from the driver's arm (for an intoxication test) in Dahlgren, 303.29.

The California police had no authority to search for a shotgun without a warrant in Ince, 303.30.

The Connecticut police should not have forced a confession from Def. by threatening to take his wife into custody in Rogers, 353.12.

In a fine example of self-criticism, the Dist. Atty. of Kings Co., New York moved to dismiss first degree murder charges against Rezek, 312.23, on the ground that the State's principal witness was unreliable.

And in Saldana, 321.10, the Solicitor General suggested that the Supreme Court vacate 15 years of a 20 year sentence imposed by a second judge after the first trial judge had promised a 5 year sentence.

More "Dirty Business" ...

The United States Supreme Court again expressed its disapproval of wiretapping, this time done by "unauthorized physical penetration" into premises of Defs. by means of an electronic device. Silverman, 301.11.

However, the double standard prevailed in the Court's willingness to permit wiretap evidence to be used in a state court proceeding. Pugach, 301.12.

... But There Is a Limit

The United States Supreme Court has read the Jencks Act broadly in two recent decisions, permitting defendants to inspect statements given by government witnesses to FBI agents, when the statements were written by the agents and only signed by the witnesses. Clancy, 315.2; Campbell, 315.3.

What Rights Has a Prisoner?

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court in Bailleaux, 374.12, and held that inmates have no right to law library facilities in prison or to time in such library to search for grounds to overturn "presumptively valid judgments" against them.

Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court, in Newbern, 490.19, held that police can not restrict phone calls of an arrested person to his lawyer and employer, finding that this would constitute a deprivation of the prisoner's constitutional rights.

Universal Free Public Education

In Prince Edward County, Negro parents are searching for a method of forcing local authorities to open the schools closed for 18 months and provide free public education for their children. Allen, 522.Va1.

Yet in W. Windsor, New Jersey, two parents are searching for a method of preventing local authorities from forcing them to send their children to the free public schools provided. Trifan, 23.15.

But, north and south, parents join in searching for a quick, practical approach to integration in the public schools. In New Rochelle, New York, the Board of Education is preparing a desegregation plan under court order after the Court of Appeals dismissed as premature the Board's appeal from the order. Taylor, 522.NY4a. Many southern school boards are preparing desegregation plans under similar court orders.

An attempt is being made by some southern Negro parents to force school boards to present plans for integration of teachers, as well as pupils. See Augustus, 522.Fla5.

The federal district court in Jacksonville, aware of the pressures frequently directed against Negro parents who file school desegregation suits, moved to protect the plaintiffs in the case before him. Braxton, 522.Fla.7.

And the federal government has moved into four Louisiana public school desegregation cases as a friend of the court. 522.La2, 3, 4, 11.

Beyond Desegregation

One of the few truly integrated schools in the United States, and one of the very few integrated adult education centers in the country was just ordered closed by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The petition for certiorari of the Highlander Folk School is being filed in the United States Supreme Court. 244.6.

The First Amendment Again

By splitting 5-4 in the Braden and Wilkinson cases, 271.32 and .31, the United States Supreme Court did not end the quest for freedom under the First Amendment. The Court has already heard another First Amendment contempt case, Deutch, 271.10, and granted certiorari to hear yet another, Shelton, 271.15.

Pending on petitions for certiorari are six more First Amendment contempt cases: Russell, Gojack, Whitman, Price, Liveright, Wheeldin. Yellin is on its way to the Court. Five cases are pending in Courts of Appeals. Ten are pending in District Courts.

The Gibson case, involving the Florida Legislative Investigating Committee, is now pending on a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, 272.10.