Jones v. Caddo Parish School Bd., 81-3439

Decision Date06 May 1983
Docket NumberNo. 81-3439,81-3439
Citation704 F.2d 206
Parties10 Ed. Law Rep. 105 Beryl N. JONES, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CADDO PARISH SCHOOL BOARD, et al., Defendants-Appellees, v. June PHILLIPS, Movant-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

Troy E. Bain, Shreveport, La., for movant-appellant.

Beard, Arceneaux & Sutherland, Fred H. Sutherland, Shreveport, La., Wm. Yeomans, Alexandria, Va., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

Before GOLDBERG, WILLIAMS and GARWOOD, Circuit Judges.

GARWOOD, Circuit Judge:

June Phillips appeals from a denial of her motion to intervene, both individually and on behalf of a class, in this litigation concerning the desegregation of the Caddo Parish school system. We agree with the district court that Ms. Phillips' motion failed to satisfy a prerequisite for intervention under Fed.R.Civ.P. 24; accordingly, we affirm the denial of her petition.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This action began in 1965 when seven black school children and their parents filed a complaint alleging that the Caddo Parish public schools were operated on a biracial basis, in violation of the rights secured to them under the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. Plaintiffs sought to represent themselves and a class of "Negro children and their parents in Caddo Parish," pursuant to Rule 23(a)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as then in effect (the 1938 version). 1 The district court, per Judge Dawkins, enjoined the operation of the dual school system and ordered the Caddo Parish School Board to prepare a desegregation plan. Following the submission of the School Board's proposal, the United States moved to intervene as a party plaintiff pursuant to Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000h-2. 2 The district court adopted the School Board's desegregation scheme and denied intervention by the United States; both of these actions were reversed by our decision in United States v. Jefferson County Board of Education, 372 F.2d 836 (5th Cir.1966), aff'd with modifications, 380 F.2d 385 (5th Cir.) (en banc ), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 840, 88 S.Ct. 77, 19 L.Ed.2d 104 (1967). The United States has been an active participant in this litigation since the decision in Jefferson County.

Subsequent desegregation plans adopted in Caddo Parish were disapproved by this Court in Hall v. St. Helena Parish School Board, 417 F.2d 801 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 904, 90 S.Ct. 218, 24 L.Ed.2d 180 (1969) (rejecting a freedom of choice plan), and Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 421 F.2d 313 (5th Cir.1970) (reversing the district court's approval of a plan submitted by the School Board and remanding for consideration of Singleton v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District, 419 F.2d 1211 (5th Cir.1969) (en banc ), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 1032, 90 S.Ct. 611, 24 L.Ed.2d 698 (1970)).

In February 1972, plaintiffs filed a petition for further relief which requested the elimination of racially identifiable schools and professional staffs, and a judgment declaring the apportionment scheme for School Board elections to be unconstitutional. The petition was signed by Arthur Thompson of the law firm of Stone & Thompson. Nine days later, an amended motion for further relief was filed. This motion, after acknowledging the prior request, focused on the School Board's failure to dismantle "schools with substantially disproportionate racial compositions" and sought the elimination of the remaining vestiges of the dual school system. The attorney who signed the amended motion was Margrett Ford. In previous filings Ms. Ford had been listed in association with Jack Greenberg and Norman Chachkin of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York City; however, she had recently notified the district court of her new address in Shreveport, Louisiana. While these motions were pending, Judge Dawkins recused himself from the case and Judge Scott took the helm.

In March 1973, the United States responded to the motions for relief by requesting that the court appoint a biracial committee of citizens of Caddo Parish (the "Committee") to assess the progress of the existing desegregation scheme and to develop alternate proposals. Judge Scott ordered the establishment of such Committee, which presented its report and desegregation plan on June 1, 1973. Shortly thereafter, plaintiffs--through Margrett Ford--filed their objections to the pupil assignment portion of the Committee's proposed method of desegregation. Ms. Ford also moved to add additional parties as plaintiffs. The United States objected to the Committee plan because it permitted the continued operation of thirty-four one-race or predominately one-race schools.

Prior to the disposition of these objections, Jesse Stone (of Stone & Thompson), plaintiffs' original retained counsel, moved to strike Arthur Thompson, Margrett Ford, Jack Greenberg, and Norman Chachkin as counsel for plaintiffs and to substitute in their place Murphy Bell. Attached to this motion was the affidavit of Reverend E. Edward Jones, one of the original named plaintiffs in the action, stating that Arthur Thompson had been elected to the Caddo Parish School Board and, hence, must withdraw as plaintiffs' representative, and that the lawyers from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund were being dismissed "because of the objections [they] filed to the Court Appointed Citizens Committee Desegregation Plan." 3 The motion to substitute counsel was signed by Judge Scott on July 13, 1973. A few days later, Judge Scott denied the motion to add additional party plaintiffs. 4 Newly appointed plaintiffs' counsel, Mr. Bell, then filed a motion seeking to strike the objections to the Committee's desegregation plan that had previously been lodged by Ms. Ford. 5 The objections were deleted by an order of the district court dated July 20, 1973. That same day, the court adopted the Committee's desegregation plan and directed that it be implemented in time for the start of the 1973-74 school year.

Four months later, lawyers Greenberg, Chachkin, and Ford filed a motion to intervene on behalf of several black school children and their parents who resided in Caddo Parish. 6 The application for intervention stated that the named individuals sought to represent a "class of present and future black public school children who are or will be eligible to attend the public schools of Caddo Parish." Appended to the application for intervention was the complaint of plaintiffs-intervenors, which assailed the constitutionality of the Committee's pupil assignment plan for its retention of one-race schools within the parish. Finding that the original plaintiffs adequately represented the class and that the motion to intervene was untimely, the district court denied the application for intervention. That decision was vacated by this Court and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on the motion to intervene. Jones v. Caddo Parish School Board, 499 F.2d 914 (5th Cir.1974). On remand, the district court was instructed to "determine the class and who properly represents it." Id. at 917. However, the record reflects no further development on the application for intervention; on remand, no hearing was sought or held.

For approximately the next two years, the Caddo Parish school system operated under the Committee's desegregation plan without further legal proceedings. On July 20, 1976, the Citizens Advisory Committee, a group appointed to oversee the implementation of the 1973 plan, filed a report with the district court indicating several areas in which the parish had not met the requirements established by the plan. That report recommended a one-year extension of the court order directing compliance with the 1973 Committee desegregation scheme. After examining data on the system's progress submitted by the School Board, Judge Scott appointed a Special Master "for the specific purpose of investigating, examining and producing evidence to enable the Court to determine the degree of conformity achieved by the Caddo Parish School Board in satisfying the conditions and provisions of the [1973] plan ...."

In September 1976, the School Board filed a motion with the district court asking for a declaration that the Caddo Parish school system was unitary and for dismissal of this action. Opposing this motion, the United States stated that any declaration of unitary status prior to the completion of the Special Master's duties would be premature. Deposition testimony was taken before the Special Master on November 8 and 9, 1976. The plaintiffs--through counsel William Jefferson--also filed a memorandum in opposition to the School Board's motion. 7 On December 30, 1977, Judge Scott found that the "former state-imposed dual system has been completely eradicated" and declared the Caddo Parish school system "a unitary system." The judgment rendered that day dismissed the suit.

Neither the United States nor the private plaintiffs appealed from this decision, but on January 11, 1978, the government moved to amend the district court's judgment and findings, claiming procedural irregularities in the proceedings held by the Special Master and substantive deficiencies in the determination that a unitary status had been achieved. Significantly, none of the original plaintiffs indicated any opposition to the finding that the system was unitary or to the dismissal of the action. In July 1978, the School Board requested that the district court lift the requirement of a faculty ratio of 50 percent white and 50 percent black. 8 Again, only the United States filed in opposition to the School Board's request for partial relief.

On August 16, 1979, Judge Scott recused himself and the case was transferred to its third district judge, Judge Stagg.

On June 3, 1980, following a status conference held the previous day, Judge Stagg entered a minute order which provided in part:

"If the...

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