335 F.Supp. 1004 (N.D.Ga. 1971), Civ. A. 13467, United States v. Mitchell

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 13467
Citation:335 F.Supp. 1004
Party Name:United States v. Mitchell
Case Date:December 27, 1971
Court:United States District Courts, 11th Circuit, Northern District of Georgia

Page 1004

335 F.Supp. 1004 (N.D.Ga. 1971)



Raymond C. MITCHELL, d/b/a Ray Mitchell Realty Company.




Civ. A. Nos. 13467, 13468.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia

Dec. 27, 1971

Page 1005

John N. Mitchell, Atty. Gen., Jerris Leonard, Asst. Atty. Gen., Frank E. Schwelb, Thomas M. Keeling, Carl A. Gabel, Attys., Department of Justice, Washington, D. C., John W. Stokes, Jr., U. S. Atty., N. D. Ga., Atlanta, Ga., for plaintiff.

Hugh M. Dorsey, Jr., Hansell, Post, Brandon & Dorsey, Atlanta, Ga., for Ray Mitchell.

Glenville Haldi, Peek, Whaley & Haldi, Atlanta, Ga., for Lawrence.

Charles L. Weltner, Weltner & Crumbley, Atlanta, Ga., for Stanley.


EDENFIELD, District Judge.

In these "blockbusting" suits in each of which motions for complete summary judgment have previously been denied, 1 the Attorney General originally sought injunctive relief against six Atlanta real estate firms for allegedly engaging, for profit, in a pattern or practice of inducing or attempting to induce persons to sell or rent their homes by representations regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhoods of persons of a particular race, color, religion or national origin, in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, sections 3604 and 3613 of Title 42 of the United States Code. As part of such actions the government also claimed that the defendants had deprived a group of persons of their rights as guaranteed by that Act. Three of the cases were disposed of by consent before trial and the three remaining cases were tried before the court without a jury on October 4 through 14, 1971.

All of the defendants are real estate brokers licensed by the State of Georgia to engage in the listing and selling of real estate. Each is the sole proprietor of the company bearing his (or her) name.

Defendant Mitchell employs approximately 80 sales persons or agents, about one-half of whom are part-time, the others being regular full-time employees. Defendant Stanley employs 14 agents and Lawrence 27. Each defendant, through its sales people, acts as agent for listing sellers and presents offers (contracts) on behalf of potential buyers, earning commissions from the sellers only when sales are consummated. Almost all such sales involve single-family dwellings. All of the defendants and all agents are white.

The earnings of real estate salesmen are derived from the commissions earned on houses they sell and from no other source. A salesman's earnings increase in direct proportion to the increase in the number of houses he or she sells.

The Mitchell case involves four areas in Southwest Atlanta known as Heritage Valley, Dixie Pines, Kings Forest, and an area between Campbellton and Beecher Roads. These areas comprise altogether a total of four square miles. The cases against Stanley and Lawrence involve an area in Southeast Atlanta known as the Candler Road-Glenwood-McAfee area.

These areas have been since 1968 considered racially transitional; that is, prior to 1968 the racial occupancy of them was all white, but beginning in 1968 as blacks began moving in whites began moving out. All of the areas are now substantially all black. All of the defendants were aware of this transition.

Virtually all of the testimony in each case came either from housewives now or formerly living in the affected areas or from the defendants and agents themselves.

The evidence at the trial disclosed many illuminating things about what happens in a residential neighborhood when it becomes racially transitional. For example, if these cases are typical-and the court believes they are-the following consequences can be predicted

Page 1006

as inevitable, and beyond dispute: First, a sense of panic and urgency immediately grips the neighborhood and rumors circulate and recirculate about the extent of the intrusion (real or fancied), the effect on property values and the quality of education. Second, there are sales and rumors of sales, some true, some false. Third, the frenzied listing and sale of houses attracts real estate agents like flies to a leaking jug of honey. Fourth, even those owners who do not sell are sorely tempted as their neighbors move away, and hence those who remain are peculiarly vulnerable. Fifth, the names of successful agents are exchanged and recommended between homeowners and frequently the agents are called by the owners themselves, if not to make a listing then at least to get an up-to-date appraisal. Constant solicitation of listings goes on by all agents either by house-to-house calls and/or by mail and/or by telephone, to the point where owners and residents are driven almost to distraction.

In this maelstrom the atmosphere is necessarily charged with Race, whether mentioned or not, and as a result there is very little cause or necessity for an agent to make direct representations as to race or as to what is going on. On the contrary both sides already know, all too well, what is...

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