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Brief for the Petitioners

On Writ Of Certiorari To The Supreme Court Of Alabamabrief For The Petitioners

HARRY H. WACHTEL, SAMUEL R. PIERCE JR., JOSEPH B. RUSSELL, DAVID N. BRAININ, STEPHEN J. JELIN, CLARENCE B. JONES, DAVID G. LUBELL, CHARLES B. MARKHAM, WACHTEL & MICHAELSON, BATTLE, FOWLER, STOKES & KHEEL, LUBELL, LUBELL & JONES, Of Counsel. Of Counsel. I. H. WACHTEL, CHARLES S. CONLEY, BENJAMIN SPIEGEL, RAYMOND S. HARRIS, Attorneys for Petitioners. 1100 - 17th St., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036

Index

Opinions Below

Jurisdiction

Questions Presented

Constitutional and Statutory Provisions Involved

Statement

  1. The Nature of the Publication
  2. The Evidence Concerning Publication
  3. The Alleged Libel
  4. Biased Trial and Judgment

Summary of Argument

Argument

  1. This court must nullify schemes which encroach on freedom of utterance under the guise of punishing libel
  2. The proceedings below constitute prohibited state action and, together with the concepts of libel enunciated by the Alabama courts, unconstitutionally abridge freedoms of press, speech, assembly and association
    1. Prohibited state action is clearly involved
    2. The First and Fourteenth Amendments protect criticism and discussion of the political conduct and actions of public officials
    3. Vagueness and indefiniteness of standards require reversal of the judgment below
    4. Respondent's erroneous contentions as to the defense of truth
  3. The judgment and proceedings below violate petitioners' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights in that the record is devoid of evidence of authorization or publication of the ad in suit, and they require of total strangers to the publication expression of disbelief and disavowal
    1. Lack of evidence as denial of due process of law
    2. Prejudicial rulings below concerning "ratification;" silence as consent
    3. Compulsory disclosure of belief
  4. Petitioners' rights to Due Process and Equal Protection of Law and to a fair and impartial trial as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment were flagrantly violated and abridged by the proceedings below
    Jurisdiction to redress flagrant violations of fundamental constitutional rights "is not to be defeated under the name of local practice"

Conclusion

Appendix A

Appendix B

Petitioners Abernathy, Shuttlesworth, Seay, and Lowery submit this brief for reversal of the judgment of the Supreme Court of Alabama entered on August 30, 1962, which affirmed a $500,000 libel judgment for punitive damages entered on November 3, 1960 in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama against petitioners and The New York Times Company, their co-defendant, in a suit for alleged libel, based on an advertisement (R. 6, 1925; reproduced in Appendix A infra, p. 63) printed in The New York Times on March 29, 1960, appealing for contributions to aid the civil rights movement in the South.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Brief for the Petitioners - On Writ Of Certiorari To The Supreme Court Of Alabamabrief For The Petitioners, Questions Presented2, Constitutional And Statutory Provisions Involved