'Civil Righters' suit dismissed/August 6, 1964
Wednesday, June 9, 2004 1:00 PM
U.S. District Judge Sidney Mize Thursday dismissed a suit requesting appointment of U.S. commissioners in Mississippi’s 82 counties for the protection of Civil Rights workers.
The suit was filed by Civil Rights leaders and relatives of two of the three Civil Rights workers missing in northeast Mississippi for more than a month.
The suit specifically named Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, representing the sheriffs of all 82 counties in the state, Col. T.B. Birdson, representing the Highway Safety Patrol, the Ku Klux Klan, the Americans for the Preservation of the White Race, and the White Citizens Council of Mississippi.
Mize ruled the suit was “without merit” because it failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. He also pointed out the three sworn plaintiffs ordered to be present at the hearing were not in the courtroom.
The judge, who postponed the hearing last week, had ordered R. Hunter Morey, Ruth Schein and Dorey Ladner, all Civil Rights workers, to appear in he courtroom, Mize said he would rule either on affidavits or testimony and wanted the three to be available.
Chicago attorney William Kunstler said the three would have been available if Mize had been unable to make his decision on the affidavits alone.
Mize told him “it’s almost like you’re fooling around with the court.”
WILL BE APPEALED
A motion to have the case dismissed for failure to state a claim was submitted by Will Wells, assistant state attorney general. Wells said earlier the suit used “loose language and no specifics.” He said it stated no claim on which relief could be granted.
Kunstler said the judge’s ruling would be appealed immediately to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for “our day in court.”
Mize said he would certify there was no merit in the appeal.
The suit cited as a basis for naming U. S. Commissioners to each county an 1866 federal statute designed to protect newly freed Negroes and “exactly the type of lawlessness and violence presently existing in Mississippi.”
The state, charging the suit “covers all and touches nothing”, tried unsuccessfully last week to have the suit dismissed.