Mississippi Ass'n of Educators v. Trustees of Jackson Mun. Separate School Dist., 56457

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Citation510 So.2d 123
Docket NumberNo. 56457,56457
Parties40 Ed. Law Rep. 1328 MISSISSIPPI ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS, et al. v. TRUSTEES OF the JACKSON MUNICIPAL SEPARATE SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al.
Decision Date08 April 1987

Patricia Hancock, Hancock & Hancock, Jackson, for appellants.

Kenneth E. Milam, Gary E. Friedman-Miller, Milam & Moeller, W. David Watkins, J. Perry Sansing-Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, Ben J. Piazza, Jr., Keyes, Moss, Piazza & Woods, Jackson, Clell G. Ward, Greenville, Edwin Lloyd Pittman, Atty. Gen. by Stephen J Before WALKER, C.J., and DAN M. LEE and GRIFFIN, JJ.

Kirchmayr, Deputy Atty. Gen. and Frankie Walton White, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellees.

GRIFFIN, Justice, for the Court:

This is an appeal from a temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunctions, declaratory judgment, and citations for criminal contempt issued by the Hinds County Chancery Court which determined that a strike by public school teachers was illegal and contrary to public policy. Because the Mississippi Legislature subsequently addressed the problem of the right of public school teachers to engage in a strike, concerted work stoppage or concerted refusal to perform lawfully contracted for duties, the question of the propriety of the entry of the trial court's orders is moot.

I.

In response to a threatened strike by its teachers, Jackson Municipal Separate School District ("JMSSD"), the Trustees of JMSSD and JMSSD Superintendent of Education, Dr. Robert A. Fortenberry, (collectively JMSSD and Appellees herein), filed a complaint on February 22, 1985, in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, alleging that appellants were advocating an imminent strike against the JMSSD, that a strike would be illegal, and that the JMSSD would suffer various injuries as a result. JMSSD requested that the Chancellor issue a temporary restraining order without notice, a declaratory judgment delineating the rights of the parties, and other appropriate preliminary or permanent equitable relief. Named as defendants (appellants herein) was Mississippi Association of Educators ("MAE"), an unincorporated labor organization doing business in Mississippi, Alice Harden, president of the MAE, the Jackson Association of Educators (JAE), an organized local chapter of the MAE, and Carol Bunger, president of the JAE.

Based on allegations in the complaint of JMSSD, the Chancellor issued a temporary restraining order. By this order, appellants, their agents and members acting in concert with them, were enjoined from participating in a strike or concerted work stoppage against the JMSSD, and from using force, violence, intimidation or threats to coerce teachers to participate in a strike or concerted work stoppage against the JMSSD. The Chancellor scheduled a hearing for March 4 on the JMSSD's request for declaratory and preliminary injunctive relief. On February 23, the State of Mississippi, through the Attorney General, intervened as a plaintiff in the instant suit and was granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting appellants and those acting in concert with them from engaging in a strike or concerted work stoppage against any school district in the state.

On March 2, the first of fourteen school districts (appellees herein) from across the state filed application for intervention and requested temporary restraining orders similar to the order granted to the JMSSD. In each case, the chancellor allowed intervention and granted the requested temporary restraining order.

On March 4, the Chancellor conducted a hearing to determine whether a preliminary injunction should issue.

On March 11, the Chancellor entered a preliminary injunction prohibiting the MAE, its local affiliates, its President, its Executive Director, its members and agents, and all persons acting in concert with them from (1) engaging or participating in a strike or concerted work stoppage, (2) engaging in the use of force, violence, intimidation or threats to force members of the JMSSD or the intervening school districts to engage in a strike or concerted work stoppage, and (3) interfering in any manner with any persons attempting to report to work or to apply for employment with the JMSSD or the intervening school districts. The preliminary injunction was made permanent on March 15.

After allowing an opportunity for introduction of additional evidence and hearing legal arguments by counsel on March 15, the Chancellor granted a declaratory judgment This case did not, however, end with the granting of the declaratory judgment and injunction. Based on a call by the MAE union for a statewide strike after the injunction had been obtained, the JMSSD and the intervening school districts sought a contempt citation against Appellants. This motion was filed in direct response to a vote taken by the MAE Board of Directors on March 12 and made public on March 13 in which the Board called for a statewide strike of all teachers to begin on Monday, March 18.

in favor of the State and the JMSSD and the intervening school districts. In his order, the Chancellor declared that, as a matter of law, a strike, concerted work stoppage, or concerted refusal to perform duties in any manner by the Defendants or teachers of the various school districts in Mississippi would be illegal, unprotected, and contrary to the public policy of the State of Mississippi. Furthermore, the Chancellor concluded that because teachers of the various school districts are public employees, they had no right to strike under the common law of Mississippi.

On March 18, the Chancellor conducted a hearing on the Motion for Contempt. At the hearing, counsel for Appellants, acting on behalf of Alice Harden, Herman Coleman, and the MAE Board, stipulated that on March 13, Harden, with the consent of the MAE Board, called for a statewide teachers' strike. Counsel for MAE indicated that a call for a statewide strike was not intended to apply to the fifteen school districts in the present litigation.

Based on this stipulation, the Chancellor found that Harden, Coleman, and the MAE Board were in contempt of court for willfully violating the preliminary injunction. Each defendant was sentenced to two days in jail, suspended, and fined $250 for attorney's fees.

In direct response to the 1985 teachers' strike, the Mississippi Legislature enacted S. 2876, which became effective on May 1, 1985. This law states in pertinent part:

(2) It is hereby declared that a strike, concerted work stoppage or concerted refusal to perform lawful duties in any manner by certified teachers against public school districts within the State of Mississippi shall be illegal, unprotected and contrary to the public policy of the State of Mississippi.

(3) No certified teacher, group of certified teachers or teacher organization shall promote, encourage or participate in any strike against a public school district, the State of Mississippi or any agency thereof.

S. 2876, 1985 Miss.Leg., Reg.Sess., enacted as Chapter 351, Sec. 31, 1985 Miss. Laws.

The basis of appellants' present appeal are that no case law and no statute spoke to the issue of strike activity by public school teachers in this State prior to the case at bar; the issues of restraining orders, temporary or permanent injunction, and declaratory judgment as an absolute prohibition against all teacher strikes constituted a denial of due process and equal protection; and the Chancery Court had no jurisdiction of appellants for purposes of the contempt hearing, nor of intervening school districts outside Hinds County, Mississippi.

II.

Despite the intriguing constitutional issues presented in the case at bar, we decline rendering a decision on the trial court's ruling that public school teachers are public employees and, as such, have no right to strike. Nor will this Court attempt to evaluate appellants' arguments that prohibiting their right to strike is violative of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. We choose, instead, in consideration of this appeal, to follow the unequivocal declaration of the legislature under S. 2876, which, having declared in statutory form that strikes by public school teachers are illegal and contrary to public policy, establishes the appeal of the chancellor's order as moot.

We have said that cases in which an actual controversy existed at trial but the controversy has expired at the time of review, become moot. Monaghan v. Blue Bell, Inc., 393 So.2d 466 (Miss.1981). Further This Court will not adjudicate moot questions. Monaghan, supra, at 467; Bradley v. State, 355 So.2d 675 (Miss.1978); Stevens Enterprises, Inc. v. McDonnell, 226 Miss. 826, 85 So.2d 468 (1956); Sheldon v. Ladner, 205 Miss. 264, 38 So.2d 718 (1949).

we have held that the review procedure should not be allowed for the purpose of settling abstract or academic questions, and that we have no power to issue advisory opinions. Insured Savings &...

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6 cases
  • Miss. Dep't of Corr. v. Roderick & Solange Macarthur Justice Ctr., 2015–CA–00431–SCT
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • April 13, 2017
    ...remaining—what documents, if any, MDOC is required to disclose pursuant to our law.6 See Miss. Ass'n of Educators v. Trustees of Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist. , 510 So.2d 123, 124 (Miss. 1987). As early as on May 3, 2016, there was no obligation for MDOC to disclose documents which would......
  • Mississippi High School Activities Ass'n, Inc. v. Coleman By and on Behalf of Laymon
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • January 27, 1994
    ...moot issues. Jackson County School Board v. Osborn, 605 So.2d 731, 734-35 (1992) (citing Miss. Assoc. of Educators v. Trustees of Jackson Mun. Separate School District, 510 So.2d 123, 126 (1987)). However, the doctrine which prevents adjudication of moot cases provides an exception for thos......
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    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • August 18, 1994
    ...Monaghan, 393 So.2d at 466-67. See Jackson County School Board v. Osborn, 605 So.2d 731, 734 (Miss.1992); Miss. Ass'n of Educators v. Trustees JMSSD, 510 So.2d 123, 126 (Miss.1987). Allred insists that the case sub judice should not be considered moot as it is a matter of public interest an......
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    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • January 5, 2006
    ...this record is more than sufficient to support the circuit court's finding of contempt. See Miss. Ass'n of Educators v. Trs. of Jackson Mun. Separate Sch. Dist., 510 So.2d 123, 126 (Miss.1987). In addition, the judgment of conviction clearly and explicitly enumerated the judge's basis for f......
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