Case: Nichols v. McGee

59-01187 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Filed Date: 1959

Closed Date: Jan. 23, 1959

Clearinghouse coding complete

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 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…

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.

Summary Authors

Chris Sullivan (9/5/2005)

People


Judge(s)

Halbert, Sherrill (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Maier, Doris (California)

Mosk, Stanley (California)

Judge(s)

Halbert, Sherrill (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Maier, Doris (California)

Mosk, Stanley (California)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Reported Opinion

169 F.Supp. 721

Jan. 23, 1959 Order/Opinion

Memorandum Decision

Supreme Court of the United States

361 U.S. 6, 80 S.Ct. 90, 4 L.Ed.2d 52

Oct. 12, 1959 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: California

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: 1959

Closing Date: Jan. 23, 1959

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

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

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

California Department of Corrections (Folsom), State

Case Details

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Order Duration: 1959 - 1959

Issues

General:

Administrative segregation

Racial segregation

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Affected Gender:

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run