Landry v. Daley

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
Citation280 F. Supp. 938
PartiesLawrence LANDRY et al., Plaintiffs, v. Richard J. DALEY, Mayor of the City of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois et al., Defendants.
Decision Date01 March 1968






Robert L. Tucker, R. Eugene Pincham, Kermit Coleman, Jean F. Williams, Ellis E. Reid, Lawrence E. Kennon, Leonard Karlin, Norman E. Lapping, Irving Birnbaum, Leo E. Halt, Cecil C. Butler, Edward Thomson, Chicago, Ill., Dennis J. Roberts, Newark, N. J., William M. Kunstler and Arthur Kinoy, New York City, for plaintiffs.

John J. Stamas, State's Atty. of Cook County, Edward J. Hladis, Chief of Civil Division, Ronald Butler, Asst. State's Atty., for State officials.

Raymond F. Simon, Corp. Council of Chicago, Richard J. Elrod, Asst. Corp. Counsel, Kenneth W. Sain, Asst. Corp. Counsel, for city officials.

Robert Plotkin, Philip W. Moore, Michael L. Shakman, Neil Komesar, Robert Howard, Chicago, Ill., amici curiae.

Before HASTINGS, Circuit Judge, and HOFFMAN and WILL, District Judges.


WILL, District Judge.

This is allegedly a class action, brought by the plaintiffs pursuant to Rule 23(a) (1) (3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Some of the individual plaintiffs are negro citizens who currently face criminal prosecution before the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. These prosecutions arose out of a series of demonstrations taking place in Chicago, Illinois, in 1967. Plaintiff, ACT, is an unincorporated association, maintaining offices in Chicago, Illinois, among the purposes of which is to secure negro citizens their federal rights and end all forms of racial segregation and discrimination. To obtain these objectives, it engages in a variety of protest activities, including picketing, demonstrations, rallies, mass meetings, voter registration drives, community organization and publication. Plaintiffs, Lawrence Landry, Robert Lucas, Robert Brown and Michael Rogers are negroes and sue as representatives of the class of all negroes in the City of Chicago. Defendants are either officers of the City of Chicago, Illinois, or officers of Cook County, Illinois.

This Court has jurisdiction of this cause on the basis of both general federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. ? 1331, and specific federal jurisdiction over cases seeking relief for certain specified federal wrongs, 28 U.S.C. ? 1343.1

The complaint alleges that the defendants have purposefully entered into a plan or scheme of concerted and joint action among themselves and with other persons unknown to the plaintiffs to deprive the plaintiffs of rights, privileges and immunities secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Pursuant to this plan, the defendants have allegedly prosecuted and threatened to prosecute the plaintiffs and other members of the class they represent under color and authority of certain statutes of the state of Illinois and certain ordinances of the City of Chicago. It is alleged that certain plaintiffs and other members of the class have been arrested without warrants of any kind or probable cause while peacefully demonstrating, that prosecutions based on these statutes and ordinances have been instituted against these plaintiffs and that they have been held on unreasonable and exorbitant bail. The complaint asserts that these arrests and prosecutions, as well as threats of future enforcement of the statutes and ordinances, have been made by defendants without any expectation of securing valid convictions, but rather are part of a plan to employ arrest, detention on excessive bail and threats of prosecution to harass plaintiffs and their supporters and to discourage them from asserting and exercising their federal rights.

The complaint also alleges that the state statutes and city ordinances under which this plan or scheme has been effectuated are unconstitutional on their face.2 It is contended that these statutes and ordinances are overbroad, vague and indefinite, permit a construction which would violate plaintiffs' First Amendment guarantees and fail to meet the requisites of certainty and specificity which are required of criminal statutes under the principles of due process of law.

On the basis of these allegations, the plaintiffs seek: (1) the issuance of declaratory judgments declaring that the state statutes and city ordinances in question are void on their face as violative of the Constitution of the United States, and/or as applied to the conduct of the plaintiffs herein, (2) the issuance of a permanent injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, and attorneys from the enforcement, operation, or execution of any of these statutes and ordinances, and (3) the issuance of a permanent injunction restraining the defendants, their agents and attorneys from impeding, intimidating, hindering and preventing plaintiffs or members and supporters of ACT from exercising the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Plaintiffs filed their complaint on October 27, 1967. Simultaneously, they moved that a three-judge court be convened to hear and determine the issues presented therein. Shortly thereafter, both the state and city defendants moved to dismiss, contending, inter alia, that the complaint failed to disclose a basis for equitable relief and that the doctrine of federal abstention should be utilized to allow the state courts an opportunity to adjudicate the issues presented in the complaint.

An opinion dealing with these motions was issued on December 28, 1967.3 The defendants' motions to dismiss were denied. The complaint was found to raise several substantial constitutional issues within the competency of a three-judge court and to allege a formal basis for equitable relief. The question of abstention was held to be premature. Plaintiffs' claims regarding the challenged city ordinances, however, were found to be inappropriate for determination by a three-judge court.4 Accordingly, these claims were severed from the claims involving the state statutes and only the latter have been certified to this tribunal.

The issues involving the alleged unconstitutional application of the challenged state statutes have been held in abeyance pending determination of the constitutionality of the statutes themselves. Briefs addressed to the latter issue have been submitted by the parties, and a hearing on these issues was held on January 27, 1968.

Plaintiffs have abandoned their challenges to the constitutionality of the Illinois "Aggravated Assault"5 and "Aggravated Battery"6 statutes. The remaining statutes are: the Illinois "Mob Violence" statute,7 the Illinois "Intimidation" statute,8 and the Illinois statute proscribing "Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer."9 Plaintiffs assert that these statutes are unconstitutional on their face for reasons of overbreadth, vagueness and indefiniteness.

The Question of Federal Forbearance

The defendants have reasserted the arguments which they raised in their earlier motion to dismiss. They point out that certain of the plaintiffs currently face prosecution in the state courts for violations of the statutes challenged and that these plaintiffs have not asserted any constitutional attack upon any of these statutes in those criminal proceedings, even though such an attack is readily available under Illinois law and procedure. They argue that the plaintiffs have adequate remedies available to them in the state courts and that the mere possibility of an erroneous application of constitutional standards by these courts does not amount to irreparable injury of such a nature as to justify equitable relief. It is also argued that federal declaratory and injunctive relief would be disruptive of the orderly administration of the state courts. Defendants contend, therefore, that this is a proper case for federal abstention.

The defendants' contentions rest on the premise that the principle of federalism requires that a federal district court forbear from direct interference with local law enforcement proceedings. Interference of the nature contemplated herein, it is argued, is destructive of state sovereignty and, hence, jeopardizes our federal system. An ultimate determination of these questions by the state courts, defendants admit, is subject to Supreme Court review. They distinguish such review from federal action at the present time, since the autonomy of local institutions would not be affected immediately and directly.

While state autonomy is a basic consideration, it is not the only one. Federalism is also designed to check local abuse of essential individual rights arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States.10 The state courts have a duty to preserve these rights, and it has been generally assumed that they will fulfill this duty. The doctrine of abstention has often been invoked in order to avoid federal interference with state criminal prosecutions.11 Similarly, limitations on federal equitable relief have been rigorously applied on numerous occasions to achieve the same result.12 Deference to the interests and autonomy of the states, however, does not forbid all prior restraint of state criminal proceedings or independent inquiry by a federal tribunal into questions inherently linked with the enforcement of state laws.13 The federal courts are vested with the primary responsibility of vindicating federal rights.14 Where state statutes or state conduct allegedly impair rights guaranteed by the Constitution and particularly the First Amendment thereto, federal deference to state tribunals ultimately depends on whether these tribunals can adequately preserve the federal rights of the...

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