Adderley v. Florida Case Brief

Why is the case important?

“The Petitioner, a group of Students from Florida A&amp

  • M University including Adderley (Petitioner), were arrested and convicted for trespass when they demonstrated on the grounds of a Florida jail.”

    Facts of the case

    “Harriet Louise Adderley and a group of approximately 200 others assembled in a non-public jail driveway to protest the arrests of fellow students and the state and local policies of racial segregation which included segregation in jails. Adderley and thirty-one others were convicted in a Florida court on a charge of “”trespass with a malicious and mischievous intent”” for their refusal to leave the driveway when requested to do so.”


    Whether conviction of the Petitioners unconstitutionally deprives Petitioners of their rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly or petition?


    No, the sheriff, as jail custodian, had the power to direct the Petitioners off the grounds. There was no evidence in this case that the sheriff removed the Petitioners because he objected to what was being said by the demonstrators. Rather, the evidence of the case shows that the sheriff objected only to the Petitioners’ presence on the land reserved for jail use. The Respondent, the state of Florida (Respondent), has the same power as a private owner to preserve the property under its control for the use for which it is lawfully dedicated. The United States Constitution (Constitution) does not forbid a State to control the use of its own property for its own lawful non-discriminatory purpose.


    The Court held that the convictions did not unconstitutionally deprive the petitioners of their rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly, or petition. The Court held that there was ample evidence to support petitioners’ trespass convictions for remaining on jail grounds reserved for jail uses after they had been directed to leave by the sheriff. According to the Court, there was no evidence at all that petitioners were arrested or convicted for their views or objectives. Furthermore, the Court ruled that the Florida trespass statute, as applied in the case at bar, wherein petitioners demonstrated on the premises of a jail, which is built for security purposes and was not open to the public, is aimed at conduct of a limited kind and is not unconstitutionally vague as were the common-law, breach-of-the-peace statutes invalidated in previous jurisprudence.

    • Case Brief: 1966
    • Petitioner: Adderley
    • Respondent: Florida
    • Decided by: Warren Court

    Citation: 385 US 39 (1966)
    Argued: Oct 18, 1966
    Decided: Nov 14, 1966