United Transportation Union v. State Bar of Michigan

PETITIONER: United Transportation Union
RESPONDENT: State Bar of Michigan
LOCATION: Edward Coolidge's Home

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)

CITATION: 401 US 576 (1971)
ARGUED: Jan 20, 1971
DECIDED: Apr 05, 1971

Facts of the case


Media for United Transportation Union v. State Bar of Michigan

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 20, 1971 in United Transportation Union v. State Bar of Michigan

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Naughton, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

John J. Naughton:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is the second dealing by this Court with the legal aid or legal service plan of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

The petitioner here comes under the different name of the United Transportation Union, but the reason for that is solely because of the Trainmen has been merged into that successor union.

At all times that the injunctions were issued in this case, the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen was the defendant on the appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, the merger into the surviving union were quashed.

The questions presented in this case are whether the injunction issued deprives the union members of rights arguably guaranteed by this Court in Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, or whether those injunctive probations are contrary to the this Court’s subsequent opinion in Mine Workers versus Illinois State Bar Association.

Alternatively, the petitioner contends that the proceedings after remand on the first appeal by Michigan Supreme Court were such as to deprive the union of its constitutional right the procedure of due process.

This case begun with the filing of a complaint in 1959, and basically that complaint paraphrases some of the language and the holdings of the Illinois Supreme Court in the opinion of Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

In fact, one of the defenses of the Brotherhood to the complaint was at the case was moot because of the fact that it had complied with the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court.

In that defense, the Brotherhood alleged that the State Bar of Michigan had presented evidence before the Illinois Supreme Court.

That allegation was not denied in the reply and indeed during the trial in 1961, the counsel for the State Bar at appendix 39 and 40 stated that its evidence and its charges were presented to the Illinois Supreme Court, and that the Illinois Supreme Court held that there should be no further proceeding on those charges.

Nevertheless, before the Illinois Supreme Court opinion by its terms became effective, which was to be on July 1, 1959, the State Bar filed this complaint.

Basically, the State Bar claimed that the Brotherhood had a plan of recommending and urging that its members seek legal advice, and not only seek legal advice but retraining of the union counsel.

The union admitted such in its answer.

The State Bar alleged that a majority of such Federal Employers’ Liability Act cases went to the union counsel.

The union denied that allegation, but did admit that in some cases but not in all and they went to such counsel.

The possibility of a consent decree proving fruitless, the case went to trial.

And at trial, the counsel for the State Bars said the only issue in the case was whether or not large numbers of cases went to the legal counsel of the union.

So, he proceeded to prove through only one witness, a man by the name of Walsh who was employed by the Association of American Railroads Claims Research Bureau, and who in such employment received reports from other railroads as to how many cases, the appellee cases, were handled by various attorneys where the residents were Michigan residents.

The witness also testified in appendix 102 that since 1953, the Association of American Railroads had been the chief investigating agency for the State Bar and had been in the Michigan state seeking evidence.

After the hearing, briefs were filed and the 1962 Virginia decree was handed down by the chancellor of the -- of its Chancery Court of the City of Richmond.

After the briefs, there was a 1962 injunction decree issued in this case.

An appeal was taken by the Brotherhood to the Michigan Supreme Court.

While the appeal was pending, this Court handed down its opinion in 1964 Brotherhood.

The Michigan Supreme Court after being informed of the opinion of this Court, reversed and remanded, and specifically stated that permission for the amendment of the plaintiff’s bill to seek, if it be so advised, relief not inconsistent with this Court’s opinion in 1964 Brotherhood.

The next action of the trial court was a motion for a judgment in accordance with a 1965 injunction decree of the city court of Richmond and that motion was not acted upon.

In 1966, the Virginia Supreme Court entered its opinion on the appeal from the 1965 decree and reversed the part of that opinion which attempted to draw a line between solicitation, and between recommendation and urging.

The State Bar of Virginia, petition for a certiorari to this Court and the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen opposed the petition.

The petition was denied.

In 1967, this Court handed down it mine worker’s decision.