Adderley v. Florida

LOCATION: Leon County Jailhouse

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 385 US 39 (1966)
ARGUED: Oct 18, 1966
DECIDED: Nov 14, 1966

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.


Were the petitioners denied their rights of free speech, assembly, petition, due process of law and equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Media for Adderley v. Florida

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 18, 1966 in Adderley v. Florida

Earl Warren:

Number 19, Harriett Louise Adderley, et al, petitioners versus Florida.

Mr. Feder.

Richard Yale Feder:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

I should first like to present and move the admission of the Honorable William D. Roth, Attorney General staff of the State of Florida pro hac vice.

Earl Warren:

Your motion is granted.

Richard Yale Feder:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This Court granted certiorari to review the conviction of 32 Negro petitioners who were convicted of trespass with a malicious and mischievous intent in violation of a Florida statute.

The question presented is, whether that conviction violated their constitutionally protected rights, due process, equal protection and the right to freedom of speech, petition and assembly.

Where the trespass alleged was their presence on an open public piece of property adjacent to a county jail and where the alleged maliciousness and mischievousness was their peacefully and orderliness in protesting, both the segregated facilities of the County jail itself and the prior arrest of their fellow Florida A & M University students the day before for picketing to gain admittance to the all0white movie theaters in Tallahassee.

All of these happened in September of 1963, slightly less than a year before the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

The facts of this case, I don't think are in dispute.

They established clearly that 200 students at Florida A & M decided to walk downtown in Tallahassee, Florida to protest the segregated facilities of their own county jail and wherein their own fellow students were kept and segregated jail cells for having attempted to gain admittance to an all-white movie theater.

They walked through the downtown area of Tallahassee and they arrived at the County jail grounds which is roughly – the record discloses, about seven blocks from the main downtown section of Tallahassee and from the courthouse.

They got to within about one and a half or two feet of the bottom step of the entrance of the jail.

At this point, the chief jailer testified they were orderly, they were singing “Oh, Freedom” and other freedom song and they were clapping their hands.

He asked them as they got to within one and a half feet and no closer to move to another area, grassy areas surrounding the jail.

And they moved to the area he directed them.

There was a diagram drawn and as I recall on the record, there was no measurement in the record and there was simply a picture drawn on the blackboard and someone forgot to ask the question of how far away this was.

There is nothing in this record.

But I gather it's the grassy lawns on the sidewalk probably within a hundred feet; but I don't know, I can't point anyway.

Well, do you know the distance?

Do you know the distance that they were standing?

Richard Yale Feder:

I -- I can't agree because I don't know, Mr. Justice Harlan.

Earl Warren:

May I ask how large the area was, the open area around the jail?

Richard Yale Feder:

I don't believe that's on the record either, Mr. Chief Justice, other than that there was two parking lots, sidewalks around, and lawn.

What width and distance, there is nothing in this record to establish.

What the record does establish, there were 200 petitioners and 40 policemen and highway patrolmen and deputy sheriffs around them.

And there is no mention that this blocked the sidewalk or the street.

So that I gather it was a fairly large area but the dimensions of which I cannot advise the court.

Potter Stewart:

It's a city jail or a county jail or state prison or what?