Case: U.S. v. Purvis

1:77-cr-00066 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama

Filed Date: June 27, 1977

Closed Date: 1979

Clearinghouse coding complete

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 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 crea…

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.

Summary Authors

Sherrie Waldrup (4/3/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Pittman, Thomas Virgil (Alabama)

Roney, Paul Hitch (Florida)

Wisdom, John Minor (Louisiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Allen, Frank D. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Bell, Daniel L. II (District of Columbia)

Days, Drew S. III (District of Columbia)

Eisenstein, Miriam R. (District of Columbia)

Kimbrough, William A. Jr. (Alabama)

Still, Edward (Alabama)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Atchison, James E. (Alabama)

Judge(s)

Pittman, Thomas Virgil (Alabama)

Roney, Paul Hitch (Florida)

Wisdom, John Minor (Louisiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Allen, Frank D. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Bell, Daniel L. II (District of Columbia)

Days, Drew S. III (District of Columbia)

Eisenstein, Miriam R. (District of Columbia)

Kimbrough, William A. Jr. (Alabama)

Still, Edward (Alabama)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Atchison, James E. (Alabama)

Baxley, William J. (Alabama)

Clay, J. Calvin (Alabama)

Coleman, John W. (Alabama)

Deas, Thomas A. (Alabama)

Doyle, Thomas P. (Alabama)

Galanos, Chris (Alabama)

Gaston, Ian F. (Alabama)

Haas, Thomas M. (Alabama)

Hess, Barry (Alabama)

McDermott, Edward B. (Alabama)

McKnight, Charles N. (Alabama)

Stout, Roderick P. (Alabama)

Sullivan, Joseph C. Jr. (Alabama)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:77-cr-00066

Order Granting Defendants' Motions to Dismiss

436 F.Supp. 770

Aug. 17, 1977

Aug. 17, 1977

Order/Opinion

77-02849

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

580 F.2d 853

Sept. 25, 1978

Sept. 25, 1978

Order/Opinion

77-02849

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

585 F.2d 520

Nov. 15, 1978

Nov. 15, 1978

Order/Opinion

78-00962

Memorandum Decision

Purvis v. U.S.

Supreme Court of the United States

440 U.S. 914, 99 S.Ct. 1229, 59 L.Ed.2d 463

Feb. 21, 1979

Feb. 21, 1979

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 13, 2022, 3:18 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Alabama

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 27, 1977

Closing Date: 1979

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

United States Department of Justice (Criminal prosecution)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Mobile County Jail officers (Mobile), County

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Criminal Conspiracy to Violate Federal Rights, 18 U.S.C. § 241

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Criminal Conviction

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by staff

Affected Gender:

Male

Type of Facility:

Government-run