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Vol. VIII, No. 1
November, 1962

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Facts Are Stubborn Things

The CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET attempts to provide a multitude of facts. A quick perusal of this issue will give the reader the outlines of the civil rights and liberties picture in the United States today. Closer inspection will buttress many a disputed thesis — or disprove it.

The Theory

The DOCKET was started in 1955 to fulfill several functions:

(1) to provide up-to-date information for practicing lawyers on court cases in the civil liberties/civil rights field, so that there need be no lag between a victory in one case and the use of this precedent in other cases.

(2) to record in a meaningful way the fact that thousands of individuals instigated law suits and defended against them and to describe the role of the United States Government and the governments of the various states in the eternal struggle to fulfill the promise of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

(3) to provide material on the legal system in the United States for lawyers, social scientists and students of jurisprudence interested in finding out:

What really happens, at the trial court level, after the U.S. Supreme Court says that schools shall not be segregated or that illegally procured evidence is not admissible or that indigent defendants shall have the opportunity to appeal?

How long does justice take — in criminal cases with political or racial overtones; in malapportionment suits; in injunction suits brought by people seeking protection of civil rights and liberties?

And, of course, finally: What can we, as lawyers, do to improve the administration of justice in the courts where we practice and through the advice we give our clients?

The Method

The DOCKET is put together in the simplest possible way: all of the available information is collected from all known sources, the facts are verified and digested, and then condensed.

The Impossibility

But it cannot be done.

Although many new sources of information are opened up each year, many, many cases which should be reported are missed. A small staff with limited funds cannot be complete or absolutely accurate. A small printing budget turns conciseness into omissions.

"Hardy, SNCC teacher of Negro voter applicants, asked Def.-registrar to administer registration tests to 2 Negro applicants."

This is the beginning of 501.Miss.4a, U.S. v. Wood, set in Walthall Co., tried in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Hattiesburg. But how old is Hardy, is he Negro or white, how did he come to be in that place in Sept. 1961 on this mission, what is SNCC, what kind of person is the sheriff? And what are the real legal issues?


There are a few things to say. This is the 30th issue of the DOCKET. The first issue reported 280 cases in 31 pages. This issue reports 635 cases in 68 pages.

Of these: 200 cases involve First Amendment rights (section I); 81 involve Due Process (section II); 354 involve Equal Protection (section III).

The big categories are: obscenity—14; picketing—14; contempt of Congress—15; false arrest—21; voter registration—29 in 8 southern states; malapportionment—45 in 33 states; school integration—99 in 13 southern and 10 northern states; housing discrimination—23; discrimination in transportation—48; segregation in recreational facilities—21; and in eating establishments—41; job discrimination—18.

Of the 635 cases reported, 385 involve the racial issue in some way, including 66 civil liberties cases, 81 due process cases and 301 equal protection cases. 90 of these cases arose in the north, 295 in the south.

The other big social issues showing up in thi issue are: charges of communism—82 cases; and opposition to war—15.

Of 465 cases for which dates are available—(cumulative table):

The United States Government is involved, as plaintiff or defendant, in 138 cases in this issue:

As prosecutor or plaintiff in 83 civil liberties cases; 2 obscenity; 4 re COs; 5 civil disobedience; 30 Communist Party and members; 4 Unions; 2 passports; 3 employment; 5 political deportation; 10 due process deportation; 15 contempt of Congress; 2 miscellaneous; 1 wiretap;

As plaintiff or amicus in 45 civil rights cases; 24 voter registration; 3 school desegregation; 10 interstate transportation; 1 hospital desegregation; 2 employment discrimination; 1 under Civil Rights Act; 4 miscellaneous.

Civil Rights and Liberties Citator

Over 2,400 cases have been described in issues of the CIVIL LIBERTIES DOCKET, Volumes I-VII (1955-1962). A Table of Cases is now in preparation listing all 2,400 cases, by categories, with citations to reported opinions and to descriptions in the DOCKET for unreported cases.

This Table of Cases should be a tremendous time-saver. It will be included in the new CIVIL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES HANDBOOK: PLEADINGS AND PRACTICE, to be published in March 1963 ($10.00), or it can be ordered separately ($5.00) from the DOCKET office.

Abbreviations Used in DOCKET

Citations Given in Docket

Citations are given to U. S. Reports of U. S. Supreme Court decisions; to Federal Reports, Second Series (F. 2d) of U. S. Court of Appeals decisions; and to Federal Supplement Reports (F. Supp.) of U.S. District Court decisions. Citations for state court decisions are given either by state reports or sectional reports (e.g., Mich., or Northwest 2d (NW 2d) ). Citations are given in chronological order. Some cases are not reported in the official reports. Race Relations Law Reporter is cited as RRLR.

Citations to law reviews are by name of school (e.g., Yale — Yale Law Journal, Va. — Va. Law Review).

Courts and Appellate Procedure


The majority of cases filed in federal courts start in District Courts (e.g., SD NY), are appealed to Courts of Appeals (CA 2), then to the United States Supreme Court (U.S.S.C.). Some go directly from 3-judge federal courts at the DC level to the U.S.S.C. Some cases go directly from administrative agencies to the CA DC.

When the U.S.S.C. agrees to hear a case, it either grants a petition for certiorari, or notes probable jurisdiction on an appeal. Occasionally the U.S.S.C. "postpones consideration of jurisdiction to argument on the merits", i.e., agrees to hear an appeal, waiting to decide whether or not it will finally rule on the merits of the case until after the argument.

When the U.S.S.C. declines to hear a case, it either denies a petition for certiorari or dismisses an appeal.

When an appellate court remands a case, it sends it back to a lower court for further proceedings in conformity with the appellate court's decision.


The number of appellate courts in the several states varies, as do the names of the courts. In many states there are three levels: county courts of general jurisdiction, called Circuit Courts; District Courts of Appeals; the State Supreme Court. [Variations: in Ohio the county court is called the Court of Common Pleas; in California, the Superior Court. In New York, the county court is called the Supreme Court; the appellate courts are: Supreme Court, Appellate Division, and Court of Special Sessions, Appellate Term; the highest court is the New York Court of Appeals.]

City courts may be called Magistrate's, Municipal, Recorder's, or City courts.