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Case Name Knight v. Alabama SD-AL-0004
Docket / Court 2:83-cv-01676 ( N.D. Ala. )
Additional Docket(s) 81-52-N  [ 81-52 ]
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Education
School Desegregation
Attorney Organization NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Case Summary
This case record includes two originally separate, but then consolidated cases:

The first was a class action filed in 1981, by plaintiffs--African-American students, alumni, faculty, and staff of state universities, along with now-Alabama state Senator John F. Knight--who sought ... read more >
This case record includes two originally separate, but then consolidated cases:

The first was a class action filed in 1981, by plaintiffs--African-American students, alumni, faculty, and staff of state universities, along with now-Alabama state Senator John F. Knight--who sought injunctive and declaratory relief based on violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. 1983. Represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, they sued the state of Alabama alleging that the public higher education in the Montgomery area was segregated by race. This suit was captioned Knight v. James, Civ. No. 81-52-N, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division and overseen by Judge Truman McGill Hobbes.

Simultaneously, as a result of Adams v. Richardson (see SD-DC-0001 in this Clearinghouse) the federal government completed an administrative investigation into Alabama’s Title VI compliance over four years, at the end of which the Department of Justice filed a separate, U.S. v. Alabama, Civ. No. 83-C-1676-S, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division.

The cases were consolidated and heard by Judge U.W. Clemon, Alabama's first black federal judge. During the month-long trial in July 1985, plaintiffs presented evidence showing the segregation and discrepancies in spending in Alabama higher education. Plaintiffs’ litigation strategy was similar to the LDF’s arguments pre-Brown, choosing to focus on the inadequacy of black institutions. The District Court concluded that the system of higher education was in fact segregated as of July 2, 1985. U.S. v. State of Alabama, 628 F. Supp. 1137 (N.D. Ala. 1985).

The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded the jury trial case because, it held, Judge Clemon's involvement with Alabama desegregation issues prior to his judicial appointment meant that he should have recused himself. 828 F.2d 1532 (5th Cir. 1987). On remand, the case was reassigned to Judge Harold L. Murphy. In 1991, after another trial, Judge Murphy granted a permanent injunction against the state, saying that Alabama’s policies held de jure segregation in place. The court specifically pointed to the lack of adequate facilities and funding and duplicative proximately located programs at the state’s historically white and place institutions. The permanent injunction granted to plaintiffs ordered Alabama to change policies related to employment, enrollment, funding allocation and program duplication. The District Court also ordered a monitoring committee to oversee compliance with its orders. 787 F.Supp. 1030 (N.D. Ala. 1991).

When the case was waiting to be heard on appeal by Eleventh Circuit, the Supreme Court decided United States v. Fordice, 505 U.S. 717 (1992), clarifying the standard for determining school desegregation remedies in higher education. In light of Fordice, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's opinion in part, and remanded for more development. Knight v. State of Ala., 14 F.3d 1534 (5th Cir. 1994).

On remand, in 1995, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama applied the rule from Fordice to Knight and set a ten-year period for the compliance with monitoring. A key part of the desegregation plan was a creation of a trust for educational excellence at historically black colleges that would allow alumni to prove their pride and support of the institutions with charitable foundations to exhibit confidence in the school with donations that were eligible to be matched by the state. The rationale was that the trust could help to erasing the inadequacies caused by de jure segregation. The District Court mandated that the principal of any public funds, gifts, grants, monies and property of every kind and character received by the trust should be maintained in perpetuity as the corpus of said trust with at least 25% of the annual income to be added to the trust corpus. The 75% not required to be reinvested in the corpus could be used for specified educational purposes at Alabama A&M University, which was one of the historically black institutions of Alabama. Knight v. State of Ala., 900 F.Supp. 272 (N.D. Ala. 1995).

In 2003, two years before the ten-year compliance was set to be complete, Plaintiffs filed an enforcement motion alleging that the goals of the 1995 decision were being compromised by Alabama’s underfunding of both K-12 and public higher education schools. The Plaintiff’s challenge was centered around the argument that property tax laws in Alabama were designed with the purpose of having underfunded schools for African-Americans. The District Court ruled in favor of Alabama, 458 F.Supp.2d 1273 (N.D. Ala. 2004), and in 2007 the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, ruling that (1) “Alabama's property tax policies were not policies “governing higher education” and thus could not be challenged” under Fordice decision and (2) Alabama’s “constitutional property tax provisions did not have a continuing segregated effect on higher education in Alabama.” Knight v. Alabama, 476 F.3d 1219 (5th Cir. 2007), cert. denied, 551 U.S. 1146 (2007).

Meanwhile, on July 29, 2005, two days before the District Court’s 1995 remedial decree was set to expire, Defendant Alabama State University (ASU) filed a Notice of Objections to the Termination of Provisions of the Remedial Decree. While the Notice was withdrawn on August 5, 2005, the District Court extended the time for filing objections to the termination of the 1995 Remedial Decree until September 29, 2005 and later extended the deadline until October 31, 2005 in order to allow the parties to continue settlement negotiations. The parties were unable to reach a settlement agreement, with the Department of Justice, ASU and Alabama A&M University all filing Objections to the Termination of the provisions of the remedial decrees of 1995. After the District Court allowed discovery for their respective positions, the parties continued to discuss a settlement. In October 2006, the various parties began filing motions with the District Court to approve the settlement. The court found the terms of the proposed Settlement Agreement to be fair, reasonable and consistent with the Constitution. The District Court further stated that the Defendants had been in good faith compliance with their statutory burden to eliminate the vestiges of de jure segregation remaining in their institutions’ policies and practices, with unitary status to be achieved through withdrawal of the 1995 Remedial Decree and implementation of the 2006 settlement. The District Court officially declared the action terminated "with limited exceptions" as of December 12, 2006. 469 F.Supp.2d 1016 (N.D. Ala. 2006). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the District Court’s ruling on March 28, 2008. U.S. v. Alabama, 271 Fed.Appx. 896 (2008). On remand, the Court entered an order stating "the case having been fully concluded, it is ORDERED that the remaining funds be released to the State's attorney."

A few items on the docket since the case ended in 2008 relate to allegations that Universities did not properly re-invest the Trust’s income as required by the 1995 decree. The case remains closed.

Available opinions
Knight v. James, 514 F.Supp. 567 (1981)
U.S. v. State of Ala., 574 F.Supp. 762 (1983)
U.S. v. State of Ala., 571 F.Supp. 958 (1983)
U.S. v. State of Ala., 582 F.Supp. 1197 (1984)
U.S. v. State of Alabama, 628 F. Supp. 1137 (1985)
U.S. v. State of Ala., 762 F.2d 1021 (1985)
U.S. v. State of Ala., 791 F.2d 1450 (1986)
U.S. v. State of Ala., 796 F.2d 1478 (1986)
U.S. v. State of Ala., 828 F.2d 1532 (1987)
Knight v. State of Ala., 787 F.Supp. 1030 (1991)
Knight v. State of Ala., 933 F.2d 1021 (1991)
Knight v. State of Ala., 801 F.Supp. 577 (1992)
Knight v. State of Ala., 824 F.Supp. 1022 (1993)
Knight v. State of Ala., 829 F.Supp. 1286 (1993)
Knight v. State of Ala., 14 F.3d 1534 (1994)
Knight v. State of Alabama, 1994 WL 369496 (1994)
Knight v. State of Ala., 900 F.Supp. 272 (1995)
Knight v. State of Ala., 962 F.Supp. 1442 (1996)
Knight v. Alabama, 458 F.Supp.2d 1273 (2004)
Knight v. Alabama, 469 F.Supp.2d 1016 (2006)
Knight v. Alabama, 476 F.3d 1219 (2007)
U.S. v. Alabama, 271 Fed.Appx. 896 (2008)

Alaael-Deen Shilleh - 05/21/2017


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Student assignment
Defendant-type
College/University
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Education
Funding
Racial segregation
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) State of Alabama
Plaintiff Description United States + All African-American students, alumni, faculty, and staff of state universities
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1995 - 2008
Filing Year 1983
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Litigation Trends in the Desegregation of Higher Education
Date: May 18, 2007
By: Laura Uberti Hughes (Washington University in St. Louis Law Student)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

Docket(s)
2:83-cv-01676-HLM (N.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0004-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2002
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:83−cv−0167 (N.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/20/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
SD-AL-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/1983
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Order] (505 U.S. 717)
SD-AL-0004-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/13/1991
Source: Google Scholar
[Order] (787 F.Supp. 1030) (N.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0004-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/30/1991
Source: Westlaw
Order Granting in Part Motions to Alter or Amend Decree (900 F.Supp. 272) (N.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0004-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/01/1995
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (458 F.Supp.2d 1273) (N.D. Ala.)
SD-AL-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/05/2004
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (476 F.3d 1219)
SD-AL-0004-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/31/2007
Source: Westlaw
[Order] (39 F.3d 1273)
SD-AL-0004-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/10/2014
Source: Google Scholar
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Judges Anderson, Robert Lanier III (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
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Edmondson, James Larry (Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
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Hill, James Clinkscales (Eleventh Circuit, N.D. Ga., Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
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Hornby, David Brock (D. Me.) show/hide docs
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Jordan, Adalberto Jose (S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
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Kravitch, Phyllis A. (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
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Murphy, Harold Lloyd (N.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Blacksher, James U. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Crenshaw, Craig M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Donaldson, Frank W. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Douglas, Nathaniel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Glassman, Jeremiah (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Handley, Harvey L. III (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Heubert, Jay P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Keeling, Thomas M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Kelly, Sharon D. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Marshall, Franz (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Martin, Alice H. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Meese, Edwin III (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Miller, Pauline A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Newton, Demetrius C. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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North, James L. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Pettenati, Jeanne K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Privett, Caryl P (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Proll, Leslie M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Reynolds, William Bradford (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Schmidt, Angela G. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Smith, William French (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Thompson, Sarah L (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Truman, Naomi H. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Watkins, Donald Varnardo (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Watterson, Susan J (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Younger, Levern M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Edward Smith (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Azar, Denise B. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Biggs, Gregory Marion (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Blanton, M. Stanford (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Blasingame, Ernest N (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Calhoun, Richard F. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Davis, Milton C (Alabama) show/hide docs
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DeMent, Ira (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Derfner, Armand Georges (South Carolina) show/hide docs
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Ellis, Frank C. Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Engel, Mylan R. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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George, Edward (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Gray, Fred David Sr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Greene, J. Scott (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Johnson, Carl E. Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Kendrick, Michael G. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Laurie, Robin Garrett (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Lemley, Norma M (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Levin, Joseph J. Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Meadows, Richard N. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Menefee, Larry T. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Murray, Wiliam F. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Pearson, J. Richmond (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Powell, C Glenn (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Putnam, T. Michael (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Rieder, Robert W. Jr (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Roberts, Maxey J. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Samford, Thomas D. III (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Schell, Braxton Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Seay, Solomon S. Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Self, Charles (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Somerville, William G. Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Sorrells, Reginald Lee (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Templeton, Gerald (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Thagard, Thomas W. Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Thomas, William Kenneth (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Todd, Thomas N. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Tucker, Jean Walker (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Waggoner, Mark T (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Wallace, Joseph A (West Virginia) show/hide docs
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Whatley, Joe R. Jr. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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White, Michael Ronald (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Wise, Ronald W. (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Woodrow, R M (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Other Lawyers Cohen, Daniel S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Hassett, Joseph (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Tatel, David S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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