262 F.Supp. 873 (S.D.Miss. 1966), Civ. A. 1891, Cameron v. Johnson

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 1891
Citation:262 F.Supp. 873
Party Name:Cameron v. Johnson
Case Date:December 24, 1966
Court:United States District Courts, 5th Circuit, Southern District of Mississippi

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262 F.Supp. 873 (S.D.Miss. 1966)

The Reverend John Earl CAMERON et al., Petitioners,


Honorable Paul B. JOHNSON et al., Respondents.

Civ. A. No. 1891(H).

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi

Dec. 24, 1966

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Benjamin E. Smith, Smith, Waltzer, Jones & Peebles, New Orleans, La., L. H. Rosenthal, Jackson, Miss., for petitioners.

Joe T. Patterson, Atty. Gen. of Mississippi, Will S. Wells, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, Miss., for respondents.

Before RIVES and COLEMAN, Circuit Judges, and COX, District Judge.

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COLEMAN, Circuit Judge.

This is the second time this case has been before this Court for hearing and decision. Invoking Title 42, U.S.C. 1971, 1983, and 1985, the plaintiffs originally filed their complaint on April 13, 1964, against the governor of Mississippi and various officials in Forrest County, Mississippi. They sought a declaratory judgment and injunction, attacking the constitutionality of House Bill No. 546 of the Laws of Mississippi of 1964. 1 By appropriate amendments, the suit became a class action and plaintiffs seek to enjoin the prosecutions already begun as well as the future enforcement of the statute.

The first hearing was before Circuit Judge Rives and District Judges Mize and Cox. Upon full hearing, relief was denied. The findings of fact, conclusions of law, and opinion of the Court are reported at 244 F.Supp. 846 (1964).

Judge Rives dissented, being of the view that it would be 'difficult to conceive of a statute drawn in broader or more vague and sweeping terms than that here under attack. In my opinion, the statute is so clearly unconstitutional that this case is hardly 'one required * * * to be heard and determined by a district court of three judges.' (citing authorities).' moreover, he was of the opinion that the doctrine of abstention should not have been invoked and that the plaintiffs were clearly entitled to an unjunction.

Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, the judgment was vacated, 381 U.S. 741, 85 S.Ct. 1751, 14 L.Ed.2d 715 (June 7, 1965). The case was remanded 'for reconsideration in the light of Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1116, (14 L.Ed.2d 22).' We were given the following specific directions:

'On remand, the District Court should first consider whether 28 U.S.C. 2283 (1958 ed.) bars a federal injunction in this case, see 380 U.S., at 484, n. 5, 85 S.Ct. (1116), at 1119. If 2283 is not a bar, the court should then determine whether relief is proper in light of the criteria set forth in Dombrowski.'

Mr. Justices Black, Harlan, Stewart, and White dissented, 381 U.S., beginning at p. 742 and concluding at p. 759, 85 S.Ct. 1752-1761.

Upon the death of Judge Mize, the present writer was designated to serve in his stead.

In the meantime, the criminal prosecutions here sought to be enjoined were removed from the State Court to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. That Court remanded the cases (approximately 48 in number). This was appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the

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Fifth Circuit affirmed the remand, sub. nom. Hartfield et al. v. State of Mississippi, 363 F.2d 869 (July 21, 1966), the Court being of the opinion that the order should be sustained on the authority of City of Greenwood v. Peacock, 384 U.S. 808, 86 S.Ct. 1800, 16 L.Ed.2d 944.

On September 23, 1966, this Court stayed the criminal prosecutions in the State courts until such time as the instant proceedings are finally heard and determined.

In the meantime, on October 15, 1965, we heard further proof and oral arguments on behalf of the parties. Later, the plaintiff and the defendants filed written briefs.

We now come to a consideration of the questions which the Supreme Court directed this Court to answer.



Before giving our views of what the answers should be, we allude briefly to the facts. We do not disturb, of course, the findings of fact already made by the Court as they appear in 244 F.Supp. at 847. 2 Pursuant to the hearing of October 15, 1965, we supplementally find the following to have been established by the evidence:

These plaintiffs, after arrest on the courthouse grounds, were charged in the State court substantially in the language of the statute. The blocking of the sidewalks and entrances and interfering with the free use of the courthouse sidewalks and entrances was the gravamen of the offense. We do not sit in this proceeding to determine the guilt or innocence of the plaintiffs but it may be said that we are here to determine whether there is substantial cause in law and fact supporting the right of duly constituted state authorities to have these questions of guilt or innocence determined by appropriate criminal prosecution.

In any event, from all the evidence, including testimony of witnesses on the stand, we find that for many days prior to the arrest and prosecution here in question these complainants and others, carrying banners proclaiming their views, marched around the entire courthouse building. The Sheriff, charged by law with the custody of the courthouse and its grounds, requested the leaders to limit their march to the south half of the front of the courthouse and around the narrow concrete walks at the northwest corner of the building, fronting northerly on North Main Street. For many days, the demonstrators honored this request. Then, a larger group appeared and began marching so close together that they blocked certain vital entrances to the courthouse, particularly the entrance to the Cooperative Extension Service, a function in which the United States participates. At last, on April 10, 1964, the Sheriff read the statute to the participants and warned them that if they violated it he would have no choice but to arrest them. Those participating in the picketing conferred among themselves for most of the night, obtained legal advice, and decided to march on the courthouse grounds the next day. We find that there was no harassment, intimidation, or oppression of these complainants in their efforts to exercise their constitutional rights, but they were arrested and they are being prosecuted in good faith for their deliberate violation of that part of the statute which denounces interference with the orderly use of courthouse facilities by all citizens alike.

This brings us face to face with the validity or invalidity of Section 2318.5

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of the Mississippi Code , and we consider only the questions which the Supreme Court was of the view that we should consider in determining the fate of this litigation.


Does 28 U.S.C.A. 2283 3 deny this Court the power to enjoin these criminal prosecutions? We think it does.

At the outset, the Supreme Court directed our attention to note 2, 380 U.S. at 484, 85 S.Ct. 1116, 14 L.Ed.2d 22. This was a note to the opinion of the Court in Dombrowski v. Pfister, supra, which will be set out in the margin. 4

Dombrowski sought injunctive and declaratory relief prior to arrest or prosecution, it being alleged that such was threatened to harass the plaintiffs and discourage them and their supporters from asserting and attempting to vindicate the constitutional rights of Negro citizens of Louisiana. Note 2 at p. 484 of 380 U.S., p. 1119 of 85 S.Ct., contains the following specific language, 'this statute (2283) and its predecessors do not preclude injunctions against the institution of state court proceedings, but only bar stays of suits already instituted'. The footnote continued, however, to the effect that it was unnecessary to resolve the question of whether suits under 42 U.S.C. 1983 (1958 ed.) come under the 'expressly authorized' exception to 2283.

In Hill v. Martin, 296 U.S. 393, at 403, 56 S.Ct. 278 at 282, 80 L.Ed. 293, (1935) the Supreme Court (opinion by Mr. Justice Brandeis) referred to the provisions of this Section, then 265, as a prohibition, saying:

'The prohibition of section 265 is against a stay of 'proceedings in any court of a State.' That term is comprehensive. It includes all steps taken or which may be taken in the state court or by its officers from the institution to the close of the final process. It applies to appellate as well as to original proceedings; and is independent of the doctrine of res adjudicata.'

Leaving aside any dissertation on 'jurisdiction' or 'compity', we think the plain language of the statute means

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what it says and constitutes a positive direction by Congress which this Court should obey. The 1948 Revisors did not change the mandatory language as above expounded by the Supreme Court.

Since this Court rendered its first decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided Baines v. City of Danville, 337 F.2d 579, August 10, 1964.

Section 2283 was there thoroughly analyzed. The authorities were exhaustively examined. It was held that the section is a limitation on the exercise of the equity jurisdiction of District Courts. The Court declined to enjoin prosecutions pending for violation of ordinances of the City of Danville. It was held that 42 U.S.C. 1983 does not create an exception to the anti-injunction statute.

We, therefore, are of the opinion that 2283 of Title 28, U.S.C., prohibits this Court from enjoining or abating the criminal prosecutions instituted against the plaintiffs prior to the filing of the suit for injunction.

We are of the further opinion, following the decision in Baines, that 1983, 42 U.S.C., creates no exception to this anti-injunction statute.

The prayer that this Court enjoin or abate the pending prosecutions will be denied.

The matter does not end here, however, for Baines held that restraints upon future prosecutions are...

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