Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

ROBINSON v. CONLISK

April 24, 1974

RENAULT ROBINSON AND AFRO-AMERICAN PATROLMEN'S LEAGUE, AN ILLINOIS NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JAMES B. CONLISK, JR.,[FN*] ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marshall, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before me is defendants'*fn1 motion to reconsider their motions to strike and dismiss and for summary judgment.

Plaintiffs Renault Robinson [hereafter "Robinson"], a Black policeman employed by the Chicago Police Department [hereafter "the Department"] and the Afro-American Patrolmen's League [hereafter "the League"], a not-for-profit corporation organized by Black Department members, challenge the Department's practices in the areas of promotion, assignments and discipline as violations of the First, Fifth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1983.

This case presents sensitive issues for determination. Plaintiffs, on one hand, properly seek vindication of their federally guaranteed civil rights. Assuredly, there is great value in securing an end to any unlawful practices in the areas of promotion, hiring, and assignments of police officers. Defendants, on the other hand, contest the posture of the case for the court to intervene into the affairs of the Department and insist that the case be presented, if at all, by and against the proper parties.

The defendants set forth five grounds in support of their motion: (1) the City and the Board move to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) since the City and the Board are not subject to suit under §§ 1981 and 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1983; (2) the City and the Board move to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, since Robinson and the League do not meet the requisite jurisdictional amount thereunder; (3) all defendants move to dismiss Count 2 of the Second Amended Complaint on the grounds that Robinson and the League lack standing to sue; (4) all defendants move to dismiss the allegations of Count 2 regarding the discriminatory nature of the Department's promotion examinations; and (5) all defendants move to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint on the grounds that plaintiffs do not state a justiciable controversy.

THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

Count 1 of the complaint alleges that Robinson and the League have been subjected to unequal standards, punishment and treatment for the purposes of harassment in violation of the 1st, 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Count 2 alleges that League members, including Robinson, have been discriminated against on racial grounds by defendants' practices regarding the hiring, assignment and promotion of police officers in violation of the 5th, 13th and 14th Amendments and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1983.

     JURISDICTION OF THE CITY AND THE BOARD UNDER 28 U.S.C.
                         § 1343(3)*fn2

The City and the Board argue that the plaintiffs are precluded from prosecuting their claims under §§ 1981 and 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1983, on the grounds that neither the City nor the Board is a "person" within the meaning of the Civil Rights Act.

Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act provides:

  Every person who, under color of any statute,
  ordinance, regulations, custom, or usage, of any
  State or Territory, subjects, or causes to be
  subjected, any citizen of the United States or
  other person within the jurisdiction thereof to
  the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or
  immunities secured by the Constitution and laws,
  shall be liable to the party injured in an action
  at law, suit in equity, or other proper
  proceeding for redress.

The Supreme Court held in Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167, 81 S.Ct. 473, 5 L.Ed.2d 492 (1961), that § 1983 was intended to provide private parties a cause of action for abuses of official authority which resulted in the deprivation of constitutional rights, privileges and immunities. The Court found, however, that a municipality was not a "person" under § 1983. City of Kenosha v. Bruno, 412 U.S. 507, 93 S.Ct. 2222, 37 L.Ed.2d 109 (1973), extended the Monroe holding that municipal corporations are not "persons" for the purposes of a damage action under § 1983 to an action for equitable relief under § 1983. Thus, to the extent that violations of § 1983 are alleged in Counts 1 and 2 of the Second Amended Complaint, the City and the Board are not subject to suit for such violations. This fact, however, does not deprive the court of jurisdiction over the alleged violations of plaintiffs' constitutional rights in Count 1 since jurisdiction is also founded on 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Infra, p. 536.

The City and the Board argue that Monroe and Bruno preclude suits against them under all sections of the Civil Rights Acts, including § 1981.

Section 1983 was derived from § 1 of the Ku Klux Klan Act of April 20, 1871. When the 1871 Act was debated in the Senate, Senator Sherman of Ohio proposed an amendment which provided in material part:

    That if any home, tenement, cabin, shop,
  building, barn, or granary shall be unlawfully or
  feloniously demolished, pulled down, burned, or
  destroyed, wholly or in part, by any persons
  riotously and tumultuously assembled together; or
  if any person shall unlawfully and with force and
  violence be whipped, scourged, wounded, or killed
  by any persons riotously and tumultuously
  assembled together; and if such offense was
  committed to deprive any person of any right
  conferred upon him by the Constitution and law of
  the United States, or to deter him or punish him
  for exercising such right, or by reason of his
  race, color, or previous condition of servitude,
  in every such case the inhabitants of the county,
  city or parish in which any of the said offenses
  shall be committed shall be liable to pay full
  compensation to the person or persons damnified
  by such offense if living, or to his widow or
  legal representative if dead; and such
  compensation may be recovered by such person or
  his representative by a suit in any court of the
  United States of competent jurisdiction in the
  district in which the offense was committed, to
  be in the name of the person injured, or his
  legal representative, and against said county,
  city or parish. . . . Cong.Globe, 42d Cong. 1st
  Sess. 704.

After having been adopted by the Senate, the House rejected it.

The Conference Committee reported another version of the amendment which provided in material part:

After extended debate the House rejected the second amendment adopting in its stead a provision which dropped municipal liability and made liable "any person or persons, having knowledge that any" wrongs prohibited by the Act were being committed. 42 U.S.C. § 1986.

The purpose of the 1871 Act was to counteract the rising tide of terrorism in the southern states, led by the Ku Klux Klan. The extent of such terrorism was fully documented in extensive Senate hearings. The type of testimony given in such hearings is set forth in the remarks of Representative William Stoughton, who stated in part:

  The evidence taken before the Senate Committee in
  relation to the outrages, lawlessness and
  violence in North Carolina ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.