Allee v. Medrano
416 U.S. 802 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Allee v. Medrano, 416 U.S. 802 (1974)

Allee v. Medrano

No. 72-1125

Argued November 13, 1973

Decided May 20, 1974

416 U.S. 802

Syllabus

Appellee union and the individual appellees, who attempted from June, 1966, to June, 1967, to unionize farmworkers and persuade them to support or join a strike, were subjected to persistent harassment and violence by appellants and other law enforcement officers. In July, 1967, a state court issued a temporary injunction against appellees proscribing picketing on or near property of one of the major employers in the area. Appellees brought this federal civil rights action, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, attacking the constitutionality of certain Texas statutes and alleging that appellants and the other officers conspired to deprive appellees of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. A three-judge District Court declared five of the statutes unconstitutional and enjoined their enforcement, and in addition permanently enjoined appellants and the other officers from intimidating appellees in their organizational efforts.

Held:

1. The state court injunction did not moot the controversy, since it was the appellants' and the other officers' conduct, not the injunction, that ended the strike. Nor has the case become moot because appellees abandoned their unionization efforts as a result of the harassment, for appellee union still is a live organization with a continuing goal of unionizing farmworkers. Pp. 416 U. S. 809-811.

2. The portion of the District Court's decree enjoining police intimidation of the appellees was an appropriate exercise of the court's equitable powers. Pp. 416 U. S. 811-816.

(a) The three-judge court could properly consider the question of police harassment under concededly constitutional statutes and grant relief in the exercise of jurisdiction ancillary to that conferred by the constitutional attack on the statutes that plainly required a three-judge court. Pp. 416 U. S. 811-812.

(b) This portion of the decree did not interfere with pending state prosecutions, so that special considerations relevant to cases like Younger v. Harris,401 U. S. 37, do not apply, nor was there any requirement that appellees first exhaust state remedies before bringing their federal suit. P. 416 U. S. 814.

(c) Irreparable injury was shown as evidenced by the District Court's unchallenged findings of police intimidation, and no remedy at law would adequately protect appellees from such intimidation in their lawful effort to unionize the farmworkers. Pp. 416 U. S. 814-815.

(d) Where there is a persistent pattern of police misconduct, as opposed to isolated incidents, injunctive relief is appropriate. Hague v. CIO,307 U. S. 496. Pp. 416 U. S. 815-816.

3. The portion of the District Court's decree holding five of the state statutes unconstitutional with accompanying injunctive relief must be vacated. Pp. 416 U. S. 816-820.

(a) Where three of the statutes have been repealed and replaced by more narrowly drawn provisions since the District Court's decision, and there are no pending prosecutions under them, the judgment relating to these statutes will have become moot. Since it cannot be definitely determined from the District Court's opinion or the record whether there are pending prosecutions, or even whether the District Court intended to enjoin them if there were, the case is remanded for further findings. If there are no pending prosecutions, the court should vacate the judgment as to the superseded statutes. If some are pending, the court should make findings as to whether they were brought in bad faith, and, if so, enter an appropriate decree subject to review both as to the propriety of federal court intervention and as to the merits of any holding striking down the statutes. Pp. 416 U. S. 818-820.

(b) The case is remanded for a determination as to whether there are pending prosecutions under the two remaining statutes, and for further findings and reconsideration in light of Steffel v. Thompson,415 U. S. 452. If there are pending prosecutions, the court should determine whether they were brought in bad faith. If there are only threatened prosecutions and only declaratory relief is sought, then Steffel controls and no Younger showing need be made. P. 416 U. S. 820.

347 F.Supp. 605, affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

DOUGLAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in the result in part and dissenting in part, in which WHITE and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, post, p. 416 U. S. 821. POWELL, J., took no part in the decision of the case.

Page 416 U. S. 804

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