Simler v. Conner

LOCATION: Beaumont Mills

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 372 US 221 (1963)
ARGUED: Jan 09, 1963 / Jan 10, 1963
DECIDED: Feb 18, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Simler v. Conner

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 10, 1963 in Simler v. Conner

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 1963 in Simler v. Conner

Hugo L. Black:

Number 59, A. J. Simler, Petitioner, against Leslie E. Conner.

John B. Ogden:

If Your Honor please -- pardon me, John B. Odgen of Oklahoma City for the petitioner and in this case presents a constitutional question as to whether or not we are entitled to a jury trial, but even a more important question is whether or not when you go in the federal court, the state law and the state constitution applies in determining whether you’re entitled to a jury trial or whether you use the law of the state of the forum where the cause of action arose.

In this case, the Circuit Court of the Tenth Circuit, twice in this same particular case, now I might say for the benefit of the Court, that this case has now been to the Circuit Court of Appeals three times and in the Supreme Court of United States once, but has never been tried, so it is rather unusual.

This is an action for declaratory judgment brought by Mr. Simler who was a former client of Mr. Conner.

He was a plaintiff for United States Court in Okalahoma City.

Mr. Conner of course was the defendant.

The case was originally assigned to Judge Wallace, now deceased.

He held we were entitled to a jury trial.

I represent Mr. Simler and we had asked him a declaratory judgment action for the court to tell us whether we owed Mr. Conner anymore money for lawyer fees or not.

We had paid him $24,000.

We had paid attorney's -- paid me $7500 to assist Mr. Conner, had paid Mr. Grigsby, an associate of Mr. Conner's who had a 28% interest in Mr. Conner's fee, $12,800.

Mr. Simler had paid to the opposing lawyers under the orders of the County Court of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma $46,000.

So he had spent $90,300 for lawyer fees.

William O. Douglas:

I suppose that might be of interest to the jury but --

John B. Ogden:

No, the reason I said that, if the Court please, to show that the reason was necessary to find our whether we had paid out enough fees.

I thought the Court would probably like to know how much we'd paid out to see that we did have a real reason to go into court because we didn't know whether we'd paid sufficient fees or not.

So in the suit which was declaratory judgment action, after Judge Wallace transferred the case over during his lifetime to Judge Chandler.

So upon the first hearing before Judge Chandler, Judge Chandler said, “Well, I will not give you a jury trial.”

Now, we had demanded a jury trial on a reply in our complaint, and on the response later for a motion for summary judgment.

So he said, “I won't give a jury trial.”

So then, in their brief, we went to Denver to the Court of Appeals to file an application for a writ of mandamus to require him to give to the petitioner, Mr. Simler, a jury trial. We have briefed it and argued it in Denver and then the Court of Appeals made an order and ordered Judge Chandler to give us a jury trial.

Then, when we came back there before Judge Chandler after he had received that order, he said, “Well, I won't have any kind of trial, I don't know he used the word, he said I'll just sustain a motion for summary judgment and there won't be any trial to it.”

So, it will be like in difference; jury, non-jury.

So that is what he did in the court.

We made -- we were forced to make bond then and took the case back up the Court of Appeals.

Then it went back and briefed that case and argued out there in Denver and then the Court of Appeals reversed Judge Chandler the second time if you call the first one a reversal, and they told Judge Chandler to give us a jury trial and they set aside his decree, sustaining the -- his judgment, sustaining the motion for summary judgment.

Potter Stewart:

Is that opinion in the record here?

John B. Ogden:

Yes sir, if Your Honor please, that opinion is referred to in the record and I can give the Court all of those opinions, which I will in just a moment, I have them set out right here and --

Potter Stewart:

I couldn't seem to find it in the --

John B. Ogden:

Yes sir.