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Case Name U.S. v. Purvis JC-AL-0001
Docket / Court Crim No. 77-66 ( S.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On June 27, 1977, Louis Wallace, an inmate at the Mobile County Jail in Alabama was shot and killed by jail staff during an escape attempt. On June 27, 1977, the United States filed a two-count indictment against jail officials in the United States District Court for the Southern District of ... read more >
On June 27, 1977, Louis Wallace, an inmate at the Mobile County Jail in Alabama was shot and killed by jail staff during an escape attempt. On June 27, 1977, the United States filed a two-count indictment against jail officials in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama alleging violations of 18 U.S.C. 241 and 242. The first count was brought against all nine jail officials on grounds that they had conspired to kill an inmate attempting to escape in order to create a deterrent for future escape attempts. The second count was brought only against the official who actually shot and killed the inmate.

The defendants moved to dismiss the indictment and the district court (Chief Judge Virgil Pittman) dismissed it without prejudice. As to the first count, the court held that the indictment was missing the essential element of specific intent. Count two was held insufficient because of the absence of the word willfully. The court explained that the question was not whether the defendant had willfully shot the inmate, but whether he had willfully deprived him of his civil rights. United States v. Purvis, 436 F.Supp 770 (S.D. Ala. Aug. 17, 1977).

The United States appealed the dismissal of the first count because they were concerned with the precedent it would establish for other cases. The Fifth Circuit court of appeals (Judge Paul Hitch Roney) reversed and remanded the lower court's decision. The court noted that the allegations were not fatally deficient for a lack of technical words, and this was especially true in this case because the statute itself did not include intent and because intent is assumed to be alleged when dealing with a conspiracy. The court elaborated that what is essential is that defendants be fairly informed of charges, and they were in this case. United States v. Purvis, 580 F.2d 853 (5th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 914 (1979).

The docket for this case is not available on PACER, and therefore our information ends with the Supreme Court's Feb. 21, 1979 denial of the petition for writ of certiorari.

Sherrie Waldrup - 04/03/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Criminal Conspiracy to Violate Federal Rights, 18 U.S.C. § 241
Defendant(s) Mobile County Jail officers
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice (Criminal prosecution)
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Criminal Conviction
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1979
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Order Granting Defendants' Motions to Dismiss 08/17/1977 (436 F.Supp. 770) (S.D. Ala.)
JC-AL-0001-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 09/25/1978 (580 F.2d 853)
JC-AL-0001-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 11/15/1978 (585 F.2d 520)
JC-AL-0001-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum Decision 02/21/1979 (440 U.S. 914)
JC-AL-0001-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Pittman, Thomas Virgil (S.D. Ala., M.D. Ala.)
JC-AL-0001-0002
Roney, Paul Hitch (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit, FISCR)
JC-AL-0001-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Allen, Frank D. Jr. (District of Columbia)
JC-AL-0001-0001
Bell, Daniel L. II (District of Columbia)
JC-AL-0001-0002
Days, Drew S. III (District of Columbia)
JC-AL-0001-0001
Eisenstein, Miriam R. (District of Columbia)
JC-AL-0001-0001
Kimbrough, William A. Jr. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Atchison, James E. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0002
Baxley, William J. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Clay, J. Calvin (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Coleman, John W. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Deas, Thomas A. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Doyle, Thomas P. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Galanos, Chris (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001
Gaston, Ian F. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Haas, Thomas M. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Hess, Barry (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
McDermott, Edward B. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
McKnight, Charles N. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Stout, Roderick P. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Sullivan, Joseph C. Jr. (Alabama)
JC-AL-0001-0001 | JC-AL-0001-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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