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Case Name Nichols v. McGee PC-CA-0032
Docket / Court Misc. No. 1187 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Sometime prior to January 1959, an African American inmate of the California State Prison at Folsom, filed a complaint pro se in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint alleged that various racially segregated practices at the prison violated the Equal ... read more >
Sometime prior to January 1959, an African American inmate of the California State Prison at Folsom, filed a complaint pro se in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint alleged that various racially segregated practices at the prison violated the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and sought to enjoin their use, and alternatively sought transfer to another prison. In particular, the plaintiff complained of being required required to join an all-black line formation when going to his cellblock for daily lockup; that he was lodged in an all-black cell; that he was forced to join an all-black line when going to the dining hall; that he was required to eat in an all-black section of the dining hall; and that this section of the dining hall would be dangerous in the event of fire given its location furthest from exits.

On January 23, 1959, the District Court (Judge Sherrill Halbert) rejected the plaintiff's complaint. Nichols v. McGee, 169 F.Supp. 721 (N.D. Cal. 1959). The court held that the facts complained of did not show a sufficiently grave and substantial interference with any right of the plaintiff that would reache such constitutional magnitude as would justify the intervention of federal District Court. The court noted that the rationale of Brown v. Board of Education rejecting segregated schools would not be extended to state penal institutions. The plaintiff, still pro se, appealed directly to the Supreme Court.

On October 12, 1959, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. Nichols v. McGee, 361 U.S. 6 (1959).

The docket for this case is unavailable so we have no further information about this case.

Chris Sullivan - 09/05/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Administrative segregation
Racial segregation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmate in state prison alleging discrimination against him by reason of his race by requiring him to join an exclusively black line formation when proceeding to his assigned cell block for daily lineup, and other acts that kept him with other blacks
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1959 - 1959
Case Closing Year 1959
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Reported Opinion 01/23/1959 (169 F.Supp. 721) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0032-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 10/12/1959 (361 U.S. 6)
PC-CA-0032-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Halbert, Sherrill (E.D. Cal., N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0032-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers Maier, Doris (California)
PC-CA-0032-0002
Mosk, Stanley (California)
PC-CA-0032-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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