Cooley v. Endictor, Civ. A. No. 15359.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
Writing for the CourtSIDNEY O. SMITH
Citation340 F. Supp. 15
PartiesAlex COOLEY et al., Plaintiffs, v. William Baer ENDICTOR, Assistant Solicitor of the Criminal Court of Fulton County, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 15359.
Decision Date26 August 1971

340 F. Supp. 15

Alex COOLEY et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
William Baer ENDICTOR, Assistant Solicitor of the Criminal Court of Fulton County, et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 15359.

United States District Court, N. D. Georgia, Atlanta Division.

August 26, 1971.


340 F. Supp. 16

Morris Brown, Atlanta, Ga., for plaintiffs.

Thomas E. Moran, Sandy Springs, Ga., W. Baer Endictor, Hinson McAuliffe, Atlanta, Ga., for defendants.

SIDNEY O. SMITH, Chief Judge.

This is a class action in which plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief against enforcement of Georgia's indecent exposure statute. Ga.Code Ann. § 26-2105; Ga.L.1971, p. 344.1 The action is said to arise under the First, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and Title 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1988.

340 F. Supp. 17
The Court's jurisdiction is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 1331 and 1343

A prayer for injunctive relief against enforcement of a state statute, on the ground that the statute is repugnant to the federal Constitution, must be heard by a three-judge court, 28 U.S.C. A. § 2281, and plaintiffs have requested that such a court be convened. Significantly, however, the statute challenged here is a state criminal statute. Because of this fact, the Court has from the first entertained serious doubts concerning the propriety of federal intervention. These doubts stemmed in general from a stated policy of the federal courts against interference in state criminal matters and in particular from a series of recent decisions in the Supreme Court. See Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37, 91 S.Ct. 746, 27 L.Ed.2d 669 (1971); Samuels v. Mackell, 401 U.S. 66, 91 S.Ct. 764, 27 L.Ed.2d 688 (1971); Boyle v. Landry, 401 U.S. 77, 91 S.Ct. 758, 27 L.Ed.2d 696 (1971); Perez v. Ledesma, 401 U.S. 82, 91 S.Ct. 674, 27 L.Ed.2d 701 (1971); Dyson v. Stein, 401 U.S. 200, 91 S.Ct. 769, 27 L.Ed.2d 781 (1971); Byrne v. Karalexis, 401 U.S. 216, 91 S.Ct. 777, 27 L.Ed.2d 792 (1971).2 Consideration of judicial economy required that this threshold question be determined before a three-judge court was empanelled, and the Court accordingly scheduled a hearing for this purpose on August 5, 1971. On the basis of this hearing, the Court makes the following:

FINDINGS OF FACT

Plaintiff Cooley is the producer of the musical play entitled "Stomp" and plaintiffs Herring and Mackey are artists who perform in that play. Plaintiff Johnson is a member of the theater-going public interested in viewing works of art in their unbowdlerized form. Defendants are the chief law enforcement and prosecuting officials of Fulton County and the City of Atlanta, and are sued in their official capacities.

During June, 1971, "Stomp" was being offered to the viewing public in Atlanta. Defendants Endictor and McEntire attended a performance and concluded that the nudity exhibited in two scenes, the so-called "birth" and "river" scenes, exceeded the bounds prescribed by Georgia's recently enacted indecent exposure statute. On June 16, 1971, they made their views known to plaintiff Cooley and informed him that, if those scenes were not removed or altered, prosecutions would be initiated against all persons connected with the play. Cooley relayed this information to the members of the cast, who decided to bowdlerize the two scenes rather than risk prosecution.

At the request of plaintiffs' counsel a second meeting was had with Endictor and McEntire on June 30, 1971. Plaintiffs suggested that defendants make a test case against an individual member of the "Stomp" company, but in the meantime allow plaintiffs to perform the play in its original form. Defendants responded that they could not agree to any arrangement which would sanction violation of a statute they were sworn to enforce. Plaintiffs also offered to warn their patrons of the nudity they could expect to see and to exclude all minors from the audience. Defendants did not regard this as an acceptable alternative, however, since in their view the law did not countenance the exhibition of obscenity under any circumstances. This meeting, then, proved unavailing and the situation remained essentially unchanged. Having been unable to work out a mutually acceptable solution in conference, plaintiffs filed the present action. Between the date of the filing and the date of the hearing, however, the building in which "Stomp" was being performed was destroyed by fire. Apparently no new facility in which the play's original engagement could be completed was ever located. However, it appears that plaintiffs have agreed to perform the play for the students at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the near future and that they intend to reopen

340 F. Supp. 18
to the public generally as soon as space can be found. Although plaintiffs have indicated that they will continue to delete the allegedly offensive matter from their performances, they remain adamant in their desire to put the play on in its unexpurgated form and in their belief that they have a constitutional right to do so

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

A. Mootness

Defendants argue that since plaintiffs are not now performing the objectionable scenes, and since defendants do not intend to bring prosecutions on the basis of performances given prior to June 16, 1971, the entire controversy has now become moot. The Court cannot agree. As indicated above, plaintiffs have made no concessions concerning their wish to perform the play in its original form, nor concerning their right to do so. Defendants acknowledge that if the objectionable scenes are restored, plaintiffs will be prosecuted. Under these circumstances, the Court is satisfied that a live controversy persists and that plaintiffs need not, as defendants phrase it, actually "throw the tea into the harbor" by violating the law, to satisfy the threshold requirement of any action.

B. Injunctive Relief

In Younger v. Harris, etc., the Supreme Court held that, where a state prosecution was already pending at the time the federal action is filed, a federal court could properly enjoin the state proceedings only under "exceptional circumstances". In general, the plaintiff must make a showing of irreparable injury, the traditional prerequisite for injunctive relief. He must show in addition, however, that the danger of irreparable injury is both "great and immediate", which normally requires that he show bad faith and an intention to harass on the part of the prosecuting officials. In so holding, the Court emphatically reaffirmed the long-standing federal policy against interference with the normal administration of a state's criminal laws. As the Court pointed out in Younger v. Harris itself, this policy is firmly embedded in our history and has its roots in considerations that are both legal and political. In the Court's own language, these considerations are, first:

"* * * the basic doctrine of equity jurisprudence
...

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4 practice notes
  • Independent Tape Merchant's Association v. Creamer, Civ. No. 72-73.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 24 July 1972
    ...387, 61 S.Ct. 962, 85 L.Ed. 1416; Fenner v. Boykin, 1926, 271 U.S. 240, 46 S.Ct. 492, 70 L.Ed. 927; Cooley v. Endictor, N.D. Ga.1971, 340 F.Supp. 15; Becker v. Thompson, N.D.Ga.1971, 334 F.Supp. 1386, aff'd, 5 Cir. 1972, 459 F.2d 919; cf. Younger v. Harris, supra; Hopson v. Asch, 3 Cir.1972......
  • Associated Master Barbers & Beauticians of America, Inc. v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, Docket Nos. 2501-75
    • United States
    • United States Tax Court
    • 20 October 1977
    ...$100 per year as interest. The dentist was required to endorse the note back to the bank. The District Court, in its opinion, stated (340 F.Supp. at 15): Making such payment plan available to the membership, and through the members, to the public is consistent with and substantially related......
  • Cooley v. Endictor, No. 71-3207.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 22 May 1972
    ...Ga.L. 1971, page 344. 2 The opinion and order of the district court are reported as Cooley et al. v. Endictor et al., N.D.Ga.1971, 340 F.Supp. 15. --------...
  • San Antonio District Dental Society v. United States, Civ. A. No. SA-71-CA-15.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • 31 January 1972
    ...84 L.Ed. 416; Helvering v. Highland, 124 F.2d 556 (C.A.4, 1942); Orange County Builders Association, Inc., v. United States of America, 340 F. Supp. 15 65-2, USTC 9679 (S.D.Cal., 1965); Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Inc., v. United States of America (W.D.Okl., 1969) 310 F.Supp. Next, wi......
4 cases
  • Independent Tape Merchant's Association v. Creamer, Civ. No. 72-73.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 24 July 1972
    ...387, 61 S.Ct. 962, 85 L.Ed. 1416; Fenner v. Boykin, 1926, 271 U.S. 240, 46 S.Ct. 492, 70 L.Ed. 927; Cooley v. Endictor, N.D. Ga.1971, 340 F.Supp. 15; Becker v. Thompson, N.D.Ga.1971, 334 F.Supp. 1386, aff'd, 5 Cir. 1972, 459 F.2d 919; cf. Younger v. Harris, supra; Hopson v. Asch, 3 Cir.1972......
  • Associated Master Barbers & Beauticians of America, Inc. v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, Docket Nos. 2501-75
    • United States
    • United States Tax Court
    • 20 October 1977
    ...$100 per year as interest. The dentist was required to endorse the note back to the bank. The District Court, in its opinion, stated (340 F.Supp. at 15): Making such payment plan available to the membership, and through the members, to the public is consistent with and substantially related......
  • Cooley v. Endictor, No. 71-3207.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 22 May 1972
    ...Ga.L. 1971, page 344. 2 The opinion and order of the district court are reported as Cooley et al. v. Endictor et al., N.D.Ga.1971, 340 F.Supp. 15. --------...
  • San Antonio District Dental Society v. United States, Civ. A. No. SA-71-CA-15.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • 31 January 1972
    ...84 L.Ed. 416; Helvering v. Highland, 124 F.2d 556 (C.A.4, 1942); Orange County Builders Association, Inc., v. United States of America, 340 F. Supp. 15 65-2, USTC 9679 (S.D.Cal., 1965); Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, Inc., v. United States of America (W.D.Okl., 1969) 310 F.Supp. Next, wi......

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