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 ...
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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