, Brown v. Post, 279 F. Supp. 60 (W.D. La. 1968) :: US LAW

Brown v. Post, 279 F. Supp. 60 (W.D. La. 1968) :: US LAW

    Brown v. Post, 279 F. Supp. 60 (W.D. La. 1968)

    U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana - 279 F. Supp. 60 (W.D. La. 1968)
    January four, 1968

    279 F. Supp. 60 (1968)

    Harrison H. BROWN et al.
    v.
    Jerome K. POST, Clerk of the Sixth Judicial District Court of Louisiana, et al.
    UNITED STATES of America
    v.
    Jerome K. POST, Clerk of the Sixth Judicial District Court of Louisiana, et al. (Consolidated Cases)

    Civ. A. Nos. 12471, 12583.

    United States District Court W. D. Louisiana, Monroe Division.

    January four, 1968.

    *61 No. 12471:

    Richard B. Sobol, Gladys Kessler, Robert F. Collins, New Orleans, La., Alvin J. Bronstein, Jackson, Miss., for plaintiffs.

    Jack P. F. Gremillion, Atty. Gen. of State of Louisiana, Thomas W. McFerrin, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baton Rouge, La., Robert U. Goodman, Asst. Atty. Gen., Shreveport, La., Thompson L. Clarke, Dist. Atty., Sixth Judicial District, St. Joseph, La., for defendants.

    No. 12583:

    Ramsey Clark, Atty. Gen. of United States, John Doar, Asst. Atty. Gen., James P. Turner, Lawyer, Department of Justice, Washington, D. C., Edward L. Shaheen, U. S. Atty., Shreveport, La., for plaintiffs.

    Jack P. F. Gremillion, Atty. Gen. of State of Louisiana, Thomas W. McFerrin, William P. Schuler, Asst. Attys. Gen., Baton Rouge, La., Thompson L. Clarke, Dist. Atty., Sixth Judicial District, St. Joseph, La., for defendants.

    BEN C. DAWKINS, Jr., Chief Judge.

     
    RULING ON THE MERITS

    Plaintiffs instituted this motion pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1971 et seq. (Voting Rights Act) to have the general election in Ward 4, Madison Parish, Louisiana, hung on November 8, 1966, declared null and void insofar because the workplace of faculty board member in that ward is involved.

    In trendy, the complaint alleges that defendant Post and his deputies, appearing in their legit capacities as Clerks of Court of Madison Parish, Louisiana, engaged in practices and approaches for the duration of the contested wellknown election which discriminated towards the Negro voting population of Madison Parish, Ward 4, and resulted inside the defeat of the Negro candidate, Harrison H. Brown, who in advance had gained the Democratic Party nomination.

    Our jurisdiction rests upon 42 U.S.C. §§ 1971(d) and 1973j(f).[1]

     
    FINDINGS OF FACT

    1. Defendant, Jerome K. Post, Jr., is Clerk of the Sixth Judicial District Court of Louisiana. His duties as Clerk include the management of absentee balloting in Madison Parish, Louisiana.

    2. Grace Grimes and Jewell Willhite, also named defendants, are deputy clerks of Court and as such are below the direct supervision of Post in wearing out the responsibilities and capabilities of that office.

    3. On August 12, 1966, the Lawyer General of the United States certified, pursuant to Section 6 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. § 1973d), that the appointment of federal examiners in Madison Parish changed into vital to put into effect the guarantees of the Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

    4. On August thirteen, 1966, a primary election for Democratic Party applicants for federal, country and neighborhood offices changed into held in Madison Parish. Harrison Brown, a Negro and one of the plaintiffs herein, gained the Democratic nomination for the workplace of Ward 4 school *62 board member. He defeated the white incumbent, Mrs. Dorothy Provine, who is nonetheless protecting that role pending the outcome of this litigation. There isn't any dispute regarding the number one election.

    five. In the August primary election there have been 2,486 Negroes and 2,one zero one white voters registered to vote in Ward four. Brown obtained 1,682 votes and Provine acquired 1,592 votes.

    6. The preferred election which forms the crux of this lawsuit turned into to be held November eight, 1966.

    7. On October 4, 1966, J. T. Fulton, a white resident of Madison Parish, Ward four, nicely certified as a write-in candidate for the college board workplace now in dispute.

    eight. In the November trendy election the legitimate tabulation for the Ward 4 faculty board office showed 1,891 voted for J. T. Fulton, and 1,622 voted for Harrison Brown. The accuracy of those figures is not an issue in this situation.

    9. In that election Fulton acquired 510 absentee votes and Brown acquired 2 absentee votes. All absentee ballots were solid by means of white citizens.

    10 During the length in which qualified electors may want to practice to vote by using absentee ballot within the popular election, plaintiffs allege that defendants Post, Grimes and Willhite engaged in practices and techniques which had the felony effect of depriving qualified Negro voters in their proper to vote with out distinction as to race or shade. Specifically, these alleged practices include:

    (a) Defendants assisted in solicitation of votes inside the election by way of making ready and mailing sample ballots to absent white voters showing such voters a way to cast effective absentee write-in votes.

    (b) Defendants supplied possibilities to white voters to vote by absentee poll with out extending these identical possibilities to certified Negro citizens with the aid of:

     
    (1) Soliciting and buying absentee votes from white folks inside the Delta Haven Nursing Home when these humans had not asked an absentee ballot in compliance with the Louisiana regulation concerning absentee voting. No comparable possibility turned into afforded patients in a close-by Negro nursing home in Tallulah, Louisiana;
     
    (2) Procuring absentee votes from white men and women in their houses knowing that those individuals could no longer be absent at the day of the election, and with out those men and women requesting an absentee ballot as required through Louisiana absentee voting legal guidelines;
     
    (three) Allowing personnel of Scott Plantation and men and women positioned within the "Willow Bayou" segment of the Parish to vote absentee in violation of applicable Louisiana law.

    (c) Generally speakme, the grievance alleges that defendants assisted in shopping absentee votes from white persons who had now not applied to vote by absentee ballot as required with the aid of Louisiana regulation.

    eleven. We discover that:

    (a) During the period for absentee voting inside the November eight, 1966, preferred election, now not one Negro made an try and cast an absentee poll.

    (b) Negroes had voted absentee in previons elections, and had been no longer refused one of these proper within the subject election.

    (c) The Negro voting populace of Ward four, Madison Parish, was a well-prepared, politically informed group, ably represented via the officials and steering committee of the Madison Parish Voters League which became completely created from Negroes. The foremost purpose of this corporation was to tell the Negro vote casting populace of elections and to promote the candidacy of Negroes in popular.

    (d) In order to avoid confusion among the vote casting participants, the Madison Parish Voters League, as campaign strategy, despite the fact that they knew of Fulton s write-in candidacy some two weeks previous to the overall election, intentionally suppressed the reality that J. T. Fulton turned into a write-in candidate.

    *63 12. Contrary to the allegations of the grievance:

    (a) There is no evidence in any respect that defendant Post or his deputies acquired absentee ballots from the Secretary of State for white persons by myself, or that the ballots had been acquired to facilitate any specific elegance of citizens. The unusual quantity of interest on this election become widely recognized to defendants and consequently they obtained extra ballots commensurate with this unusual interest.

    (b) The names of all individuals balloting absentee in the situation election were published in a conspicuous region within the Clerk s workplace as supplied through regulation.

    (c) No conspiracy with the aid of defendants to deprive Negroes in their right to vote has been shown even in the slightest recognize.

    (d) There isn't any affirmative proof that it changed into the color of any candidate or any prospective voter which precipitated defendants to simply accept any allegedly illegal absentee votes. There is not any foundation or justification for the allegation that defendants normal abnormal absentee ballots from white electorate merely due to the fact they had been white and could consequently vote for J. T. Fulton because he was the white candidate.

    (e) None of the defendants actively campaigned for J. T. Fulton.

    13. Defendants always acted in right religion trying to conform with Louisiana absentee voting legal guidelines.

    14. The end result of the election would not were one of a kind had the very last tabulation not included absentee ballots forged out of doors the workplace of the Clerk in violation of Louisiana law.

    15. Notwithstanding our findings that defendants acted totally in precise faith, they, of their reliable ability as Clerks of Court, in reality did discriminate in opposition to the Negro vote casting population inside the November eight preferred election in the following details:

    (a) Allowing inpatients of the Delta Haven Nursing Home to vote absentee with out extending the equal possibility to inpatients of a Negro nursing domestic;[2]

    (b) Allowing white individuals to vote absentee through making absentee ballots available to them in their private residences with out extending this equal opportunity to Negro citizens;[3]

    (e) Making absentee ballots to be had to the white personnel of the Scott Plantation without doing so for Negro employees similarly situated;[4]

    (d) Making absentee voting available to white residents of the Willow Bayou segment without a corresponding possibility being given to Negroes further located.[5]

    16. Reiterating for emphasis, we do no longer find defendants engaged in any intentional plan to deprive Negroes in their constitutional right to vote. However, the manner wherein they administered the absentee manner became discriminatory in reality.

     
    CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

    1. Our jurisdiction of this motion rests upon 42 U.S.C. §§ 1971(d) and 1973j(f).

    2. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits the imposition of any exercise *sixty four or manner which has the impact of denying or abridging the right of any citizen of america to vote due to race or colour. (forty two U.S.C. § 1973.)

    three. forty two U.S.C. § 1971(a) forbids any distinctions inside the balloting method, including the casting of a ballot , primarily based upon race or color.

    four. Defendant Jerome K. Post, Jr., as Clerk of the District Court, and defendants Grace Grimes and Jewell Willhite as Deputy Clerks of Court, had a obligation below the Fifteenth Amendment to america Constitution and beneath the Voting Rights Act of 1965 now not to engage in any acts or practices inside the absentee voting procedure which have the effect of discrimination amongst qualified citizens in elections of any type. This duty protected refraining from any conduct which ends up in permitting white electorate opportunities to vote without affording the identical opportunities to Negro electorate.

    five. In administering the balloting manner, defendants, as Clerks of Court, were acting underneath colour of country regulation.

    6. Notwithstanding the good faith of defendants, the acts and practices of defendants set forth in Finding of Fact No. 15 constitutes an illegal deprivation of the proper of qualified Negro voters to vote no matter race or coloration as supplied by means of the Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution and forty two U.S.C. §§ 1971, 1973 (Voting Rights Act).

    7. The fact that the outcome of the election could no longer were changed had the disputed absentee ballots been excluded does not ward off the putting aside of the election (Bell v. Southwell, 376 F.second 659 (5th Cir. 1967)).

    8. Failure of defendants to conform in every detail with the Louisiana absentee voting legal guidelines does now not serve to void the ballot of in any other case qualified voters, and this opinion expressly so holds. However, if there is discrimination in truth within the management of the balloting process, this can be good enough criminal floor to void the election no matter the coolest religion intentions of the election officers.

    nine. The latest amendments to the Louisiana absentee vote casting laws which took impact September 26, 1967, haven't any application to this case. However, we express no opinion as to what impact they will have on any elections inside the future.

     
    ORDER AND DECREE

    Pursuant to the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law entered this date it's far ordered, adjudged and decreed that:

    1. The preferred election of November 8, 1966, is null and void insofar because the workplace of school board member, Ward four, Madison Parish is worried.

    2. Defendants Jerome K. Post, Jr., Clerk of the Sixth Judicial District Court of Louisiana; Grace Grimes, Chief Deputy Clerk of the Sixth Judicial District Court of Louisiana; and Jewell Willhite, Deputy Clerk of the Sixth Judicial District Court of Louisiana, together with their sellers, officials, and successors, shall administer the balloting method in compliance with the relevant Louisiana and Federal regulation in this type of way with the intention to have enough money same opportunities to vote to all certified voters no matter race or colour.

    3. Defendants are mainly enjoined from enticing inside the practices which were located to be discriminatory within the popular election and every other practices and processes which can be discriminatory in fact.

    It is in addition ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the President and contributors of the Madison Parish Board of Supervisors of Elections and some other people who are required via law to behave, shall inside ninety days from the date of this order call and conduct a unique election for the office of Ward four School Board has club as prescribed by using regulation among J. T. Fulton, as a write-in candidate, and Harrison H. Brown, as Democratic nominee.

    This Court retains jurisdiction of this purpose for the cause of issuing any and *sixty five all extra orders herein that can in its judgment emerge as necessary or suitable for the motive of enhancing and imposing this decree.

    Costs incurred in this intending are hereby taxed against defendants.

    NOTES

    [1] 42 U.S.C. § 1971(d). The district courts of america shall have jurisdiction of court cases instituted pursuant to this section and shall exercise the same with out regard to whether the celebration aggrieved shall have exhausted any administrative or different treatments that can be furnished by law.

    42 U.S.C. § 1973j(f). This provision is notably equal to forty two U.S.C. § 1971(d).

    [2] In this connection we note the uncontroverted testimony of Deputy Clerk Jewell Willhite (Tr. 75) that she helped fill inside the ballots and additionally advised the voters that J. T. Fulton was a write-in candidate and that he become white. In addition Mrs. Willhite testified that no similar opportunity changed into afforded the inpatients in a Negro nursing home in Tallulah. (Tr. 80.)

    [3] The precise times of vote casting by means of individuals of their respective houses are contained inside the testimony of Defendant Post, Tr. pp. 377-430.

    [4] Defendant Post testified that he went to the Scott Plantation upon request of Mrs. Patrick who was the wife of the proprietor of the plantation, Tr. p. 381.

    [5] Six "substations" had been installation inside the Willow Bayou segment (Tr. p. 407), most of them in personal homes.