Decision Date16 July 1981
Docket NumberNo. CV 81-1811 AWT.,CV 81-1811 AWT.
Citation518 F. Supp. 1053
CourtU.S. District Court — Central District of California
PartiesLOS ANGELES NAACP, et al., Plaintiffs, v. LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.


Thomas I. Atkins, Gen. Counsel, N.A.A. C.P. Special Contribution Fund, New York City, Joseph H. Duff, Los Angeles, Cal., Peter Graham Cohn, San Francisco, Cal., for plaintiffs.

G. William Shea, Peter W. James, David T. Peterson, Michael M. Johnson, McCutchen, Black, Verleger & Shea, Los Angeles, Cal., Jerry F. Halverson, Los Angeles, Cal., for defendants Los Angeles Unified School District, Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles, William J. Johnston, Superintendent of Schools.

George Deukmejian, Atty. Gen. of Cal., G. R. Overton, Scott Rasmussen, Deputy Attys. Gen., Los Angeles, Cal., for defendants Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Governor of the State of California, California State Board of Education, California Department of Education, Wilson Riles, Superintendent of Public Instruction.


TASHIMA, District Judge.

In this action against the Los Angeles Unified School District (the "District"), District officials and certain State defendants, the District (or local) defendants have moved to dismiss the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Rule 12(b)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P., and for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, Rule 12(b)(6), Fed.R.Civ.P. In the alternative, District defendants move that this Court abstain from exercising its jurisdiction "in view of the pending state court proceeding in Crawford v. Board of Education (Los Angeles County Superior Court No. C822854)." The remaining defendants, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Wilson Riles, Superintendent of Public Instruction, California State Board of Education and California Department of Education (collectively the "State defendants") have also filed motions to dismiss. They join in the local defendants' motion that this Court abstain. Additionally, they assert two grounds peculiar to themselves, Eleventh Amendment immunity and lack of an Article III justiciable controversy.

Although the complaint refers to pendent state claims without alleging what those claims are, the primary claim here is brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of constitutional rights. The federal claim alleged is that defendants have instituted and maintained a system of de jure segregation in the Los Angeles schools in violation of the Fourteenth and other Amendments of the Constitution. Plaintiff membership associations bring this action on behalf of their members and on behalf of a putative class of all black children attending the Los Angeles City schools.

We first address the grounds on which the local defendants' motion to dismiss is based. These grounds are, first, that this action is barred by the doctrine of res judicata because of prior proceedings in state court and, secondly, that, even if not barred, this Court should abstain from exercising its jurisdiction because of the pendency of ongoing proceedings in state court. Res Judicata

The District defendants contend that the complaint fails to state a claim and that the action should be dismissed because, under the doctrine of res judicata, the claim here has been previously adjudicated in the California state courts. The judgment pleaded as a bar is the opinion and remittitur1 of the California Court of Appeal in Crawford v. Board of Education, 113 Cal.App.3d 633, 170 Cal.Rptr. 495 (1980), petition for cert. filed, U.S.L.W. (No. 81-38, Jul. 8, 1981) ("Crawford II"). Disposition of this contention requires a brief summary of the long history of the state court proceedings.

Crawford was commenced in the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1963, shortly after the landmark decision in Jackson v. Pasadena City School Dist., 59 Cal.2d 876, 31 Cal. Rptr. 606, 382 P.2d 878 (1963). In Jackson, the California Supreme Court stated that a school desegregation action stated a cause of action "even in the absence of ... affirmative discriminatory conduct by the school board," that where segregation exists in fact, "it is not enough for a school board to refrain from affirmative discriminatory conduct," and that "the right to an equal opportunity for education and the harmful consequences of segregation require that school boards take steps, insofar as reasonably feasible, to alleviate racial imbalance in schools regardless of its cause." Id. at 881, 31 Cal.Rptr. 606, 382 P.2d 878. In short, Jackson eliminated any practical distinction between de jure and de facto segregation insofar as it may have affected the right to seek a judicially ordered remedy to school segregation. It is obvious that Jackson served as a benchmark in guiding the actions of the parties in Crawford and the lower courts for 17 of the 18 years during which that action has been pending.

Crawford was originally brought as a class action on behalf of a limited number of black school children, but the class allegations were later amended to include all black and Mexican school children in the District. Although the state courts appear implicitly to have treated the case as a proper class action, nothing in the record here indicates that any hearing was held or any express determination was ever made that the case was properly a class action, that it should proceed as such, that the class sought to be represented was appropriate or that the representatives were adequate and proper; indeed, there has never been any determination of who the members of the class are.2

The action was bifurcated and liability was tried by the late Judge Alfred T. Gitelson for 65 days between October 1968 and May 1969. By stipulation of the parties, approved by the court, evidence as to liability was limited to the period from the filing of the complaint in 1963 to commencement of trial in 1968. On May 12, 1970, Judge Gitelson filed his findings of fact and conclusions of law, finding in favor of plaintiffs, and issued a peremptory writ of mandate. In his findings, Judge Gitelson found de jure segregation.

An appeal was taken and, in 1976, the California Supreme Court modified and affirmed Judge Gitelson's decision. Crawford v. Board of Education, 17 Cal.3d 280, 130 Cal.Rptr. 724, 551 P.2d 28 (1976) ("Crawford I"). Although the court stated that, "The findings in this case adequately support the trial court's conclusion that the segregation in the defendant school district is de jure in nature," it further stated, "that we do not rest our decision on this characterization because we continue to adhere to our conclusion in Jackson that school boards in California bear a constitutional obligation to take reasonably feasible steps to alleviate school segregation `regardless of its cause.'" Id. at 285, 130 Cal.Rptr. 724, 551 P.2d 28.3

On remand to the Superior Court, extensive hearings were held commencing in early 1977 with respect to the appropriate remedy. A number of plans were proposed and rejected and in February 1978, an interim plan involving mandatory busing, Plan 2, was ordered to be implemented the following September. While hearings were being conducted on whether or not Plan 2 should be continued in effect, the California electorate approved Proposition 1, an initiative measure on the November 6, 1979, ballot, amending Article I, section 7(a), of the California Constitution. Proposition 1 provided that pupil assignment and pupil transportation were available as remedies under the California Constitution only when such a remedy would be available in federal courts for violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Thus, the effect of Proposition 1 was to nullify Jackson and the line of cases following Jackson under which pupil assignment and transportation were available remedies for school segregation "regardless of its cause," i. e., whether it was de jure or de facto.

Shortly after Proposition 1 was adopted, defendants in Crawford applied for modification of Plan 2. In 1980, the Superior Court denied the application under Proposition 1 and adopted Plan 3, involving more extensive mandatory pupil assignment than Plan 2, to be implemented in September of that year. The District appealed and on December 19, 1980, the California Court of Appeal, in Crawford II, vacated the order adopting Plan 3 and the case was "remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion." 113 Cal. App.3d at 656, 170 Cal.Rptr. 495. In reviewing the 1970 findings, Crawford II first noted that, "the trial court made these deductions and inferences in 1970 at a time it did not have the benefit of the more recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court."4Id. at 644, 170 Cal.Rptr. 495. It then concluded that, "When the 1970 findings of the trial court are reviewed in the light of the correct applicable federal law, it is apparent that no specific segregative intent with discriminatory purpose was found." Id. at 645, 170 Cal.Rptr. 495. Treating the trial court's findings of de jure segregation as a "characterization" and a conclusion of law not binding on an appellate court, Crawford II held:

"In sum, no federal violation of law was established by the 1970 findings, and the trial court's identification of the then existing racial segregation within the Los Angeles school system as de jure segregation was true only in the Pickwickian sense, and was not true at all in the sense of federal law. Because there was no evidence of acts done with specific segregative intent and discriminatory purpose, there was no federal constitutional violation — regardless of the terminology used by the court."

Id. at 646, 170 Cal.Rptr. 495. The California Supreme Court denied a hearing and, as noted earlier, a petition for writ of certiorari is now pending before the United States Supreme Court.

As most recently stated by the Supreme Court, "There is little to be added to the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 cases
  • Swift Transp., Inc. v. John
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Arizona
    • September 3, 1982
    ... ... of encouraging tribal independence.'" Ramah Navajo School Bd. v. Bureau of Revenue of New Mexico, ___ U.S. ___, 102 ... ...
  • Los Angeles Branch NAACP v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist., 81-5936
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • September 1, 1983
    ...leave to amend its complaint to allege a case or controversy against these parties sufficient to meet the requirements of Article III. 518 F.Supp. 1053. The district court then dismissed the amended complaints against the Superintendent and the Governor, concluding that the NAACP had failed......
  • Los Angeles Branch NAACP v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • February 21, 1985
    ...633, 170 Cal.Rptr. 495 (1980), aff'd, 458 U.S. 527, 102 S.Ct. 3211, 73 L.Ed.2d 948 (1982). The district court denied the motion, 518 F.Supp. 1053, and certified this interlocutory appeal. 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1292(b). I. FACTS The Crawford litigation began in 1963 as a class action on behalf of b......
  • Los Angeles Unified School Dist. v. Los Angeles Branch NAACP, 81-5772
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • November 16, 1983
    ...no final judgment on the merits in Crawford, and therefore refused to preclude litigation in the federal court of the NAACP's claim. 518 F.Supp. at 1058-59. However, as noted above, on September 10, 1981, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County approved a desegregation plan for the Los Ang......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT