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Katzmann: Seeking Justice--A Book Review

Katzmann: Seeking Justice--A Book Review

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Epic struggles give rise to great books. The struggle for civil rights in this country evidences this truth. Appropriately, books have documented the sweep of the civil rights movement: the challenges of leadership, the courage of those who sought justice, the role of government lawyers, the work of the public interest bar in advocating for civil rights, the role of judges in the legal fight, the impact of judicial decision, and the poignant story of the emigration of southern African-Americans to the North as they fled discrimination and persecution in their home communities. Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote takes its place in that literature.
In 1961, in Forrest County, Mississippi, while thirty percent of its residents were black, only twelve African Americans out of 7500 were allowed to vote. This voter discrimination drew the attention of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Justice Department, which filed a lawsuit against voting registrar Theron Lynd. United States v. Lynd was the first trial to result in the conviction of a southern registrar for contempt of court. The case was a landmark in the burgeoning struggle for civil rights, culminating in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which invalidated discriminatory literacy tests and replaced county registrars with federal registrars.
Epic struggles give rise to great books. The struggle for civil rights in this country evidences this truth. Appropriately, books have documented the sweep of the civil rights movement: the challenges of leadership, the courage of those who sought justice, the role of government lawyers, the work of the public interest bar in advocating for civil rights, the role of judges in the legal fight, the impact of judicial decision, and the poignant story of the emigration of southern African-Americans to the North as they fled discrimination and persecution in their home communities. Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote takes its place in that literature.
In 1961, in Forrest County, Mississippi, while thirty percent of its residents were black, only twelve African Americans out of 7500 were allowed to vote. This voter discrimination drew the attention of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Justice Department, which filed a lawsuit against voting registrar Theron Lynd. United States v. Lynd was the first trial to result in the conviction of a southern registrar for contempt of court. The case was a landmark in the burgeoning struggle for civil rights, culminating in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which invalidated discriminatory literacy tests and replaced county registrars with federal registrars.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: New England Law Review on Apr 17, 2013
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K
ATZMANN
F
INAL
(D
O
N
OT
D
ELETE
) 4/17/2013
 
11:46
 
AM
351
BOOK REVIEWSEEKING JUSTICE
C
OUNT
T
HEM
O
NE BY
O
NE
:
 
B
LACK
M
ISSISSIPPIANS
F
IGHTINGFOR THE
R
IGHT TO
V
OTE
.
 
B
Y
G
ORDON
A.
 
M
ARTIN
,
 
JR.
 
2010
R
EVIEWED BY
G
ARY
S.
 
K
ATZMANN
*pic struggles give rise to great books. The struggle for civil rights inthis country evidences this truth. Appropriately, books havedocumented the sweep of the civil rights movement
1
: the challengesof leadership,
2
the courage of those who sought justice,
3
the role ofgovernment lawyers,
4
the work of the public interest bar in advocating forcivil rights,
5
the role of judges in the legal fight,
6
the impact of judicial
*
Associate Justice, Massachusetts Appeals Court. Prior to joining the MassachusettsAppeals Court in 2004, Justice Katzmann served as an Assistant United States Attorney in theDistrict of Massachusetts and as an Associate Deputy Attorney General in the Department of Justice. Justice Katzmann was a Lecturer on Law at Harvard University, a Research Fellowand Project Director at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and has taught at theRussian Procuracy Institute. He is the author of I
NSIDE THE
C
RIMINAL
P
ROCESS
(1991) andeditor and co-author of S
ECURING
O
UR
C
HILDREN
S
F
UTURE
:
 
N
EW
A
PPROACHES TO
 J
UVENILE
 J
USTICE AND
Y
OUTH
V
IOLENCE
(2002).
1
C
HARLES
 J.
 
O
GLETREE
 ,
 
 J
R
.,
 
A
LL
D
ELIBERATE
S
PEED
:
 
R
EFLECTIONS ON THE
F
IRST
H
ALF
-C
ENTURY OF
B
ROWN V 
.
 
B
OARD OF
E
DUCATION 
 ,
 
at xiii-xiv (2004); J
UAN
W
ILLIAMS
 ,
 
E
YES ON THE
P
RIZE
:
 
A
MERICA
'
S
C
IVIL
R
IGHTS
Y
EARS
 ,
 
1954-1965,
 
at
 
xi-xv (1987).
2
T
AYLOR
B
RANCH
 ,
 
A
T
C
ANAAN
'
S
E
DGE
:
 
A
MERICA IN THE
K
ING
Y
EARS
 , 1965-68, at xi-xiii(2006); T
AYLOR
B
RANCH
 ,
 
P
ARTING THE
W
ATERS
:
 
A
MERICA IN THE
K
ING
Y
EARS
 ,
 
1954–63,
 
at
 
xi-xii(1988); T
AYLOR
B
RANCH
 , P
ILLAR OF
F
IRE
:
 
A
MERICA IN THE
K
ING
Y
EARS
 , 1963-65, at xii-xiv(1998).
3
J
OHN
L
EWIS
 ,
 
A
CROSS THE
B
RIDGE
:
 
L
IFE
L
ESSONS AND A
V
ISION FOR
C
HANGE
(2012); J
OHN
L
EWIS
&
 
M
ICHAEL
D’O
RSO
 ,
 
W
ALKING WITH THE
W
IND
:
 
A
 
M
EMOIR OF THE
M
OVEMENT
5-6 (1998); J
ACK
M
ENDELSOHN
 ,
 
T
HE
M
ARTYRS
:
 
S
IXTEEN
W
HO
G
AVE
T
HEIR
L
IVES FOR
R
ACIAL
 J
USTICE
(1966).
4
V
ICTOR
N
AVASKY
 ,
 
K
ENNEDY
 J
USTICE
 ,
 
at ix (1971).
5
J
ACK
G
REENBERG
 ,
 
C
RUSADERS IN THE
C
OURT
:
 
H
OW A
D
EDICATED
B
AND OF
L
AWYERS
F
OUGHT FOR THE
C
IVIL
R
IGHTS
R
EVOLUTION
 , xvii-xix (1994); M
ARK
V.
 
T
USHNET
 ,
 
M
AKING
C
IVIL
R
IGHTS
L
AW
:
 
T
HURGOOD
M
ARSHALL AND THE
U
NITED
S
TATES
S
UPREME
C
OURT
 , 1936-1961, at
E
 
K
ATZMANN
F
INAL
(D
O
N
OT
D
ELETE
) 4/17/2013
 
11:46
 
AM
352
New England Law Review
v. 47 | 351
decision,
7
and the poignant story of the emigration of southern African-Americans to the North as they fled discrimination and persecution in theirhome communities.
8
 
Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote
 
takes its place in that literature.In 1961, in Forrest County, Mississippi, while thirty percent of itsresidents were black, only twelve African Americans out of 7500 wereallowed to vote.
9
This voter discrimination drew the attention of the CivilRights Division of the United States Justice Department, which filed alawsuit against voting registrar Theron Lynd.
10
 
United States v. Lynd
11
wasthe first trial to result in the conviction of a southern registrar for contemptof court.
12
The case was a landmark in the burgeoning struggle for civilrights, culminating in the Voting Rights Act of 1965,
13
which invalidateddiscriminatory literacy tests and replaced county registrars with federalregistrars.
14
 
Count Them One by One
is an engrossing account of the case, written byGordon Martin, Jr., one of the Justice Department’s trial attorneys. ABoston resident, Martin was a recent graduate of New York UniversityLaw School and in private practice when he joined the Department and journeyed to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the seat of Forrest County, to workon this important case. Observing that racial injustice was not limited to aparticular region of the country, but was a national scourge, Martinexplains: “I had seen firsthand Boston’s residential segregation, but I knewthe single greatest social wrong in my country was the denial of the right tovote to black people in much of the South. I was going to have the chanceto help address it.”
15
Martin, who has enjoyed a distinguished career—as a
vii-viii (1994).
6
J
ACK
B
ASS
 ,
 
T
AMING THE
S
TORM
:
 
T
HE
L
IFE AND
T
IMES OF
 J
UDGE
F
RANK
M.
 
 J
OHNSON
 ,
 
 J
R
.,
 AND THE
S
OUTH
S
F
IGHT OVER
C
IVIL
R
IGHTS
1-2 (1993); J
ACK
B
ASS
 ,
 
U
NLIKELY
H
EROES
9-10(1981).
7
M
ARTHA
M
INOW
 ,
 
I
N
B
ROWN 
S
W
AKE
:
 
L
EGACIES OF
A
MERICA
S
E
DUCATIONAL
L
ANDMARK
1(2010).
8
I
SABEL
W
ILKERSON
 ,
 
T
HE
W
ARMTH OF
O
THER
S
UNS
:
 
T
HE
E
PIC
S
TORY OF
A
MERICA
'
S
G
REAT
M
IGRATION
(2010).
9
U.S.
 
C
OMM
N ON
C
IVIL
R
IGHTS
 ,
 
U
NITED
S
TATES
C
OMMISSION ON
C
IVIL
R
IGHTS
R
EPORT
B
OOK
1:
 
V
OTING
272-73 (1961),
 
available at
http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/usccr/documents /cr11961bk1.pdf.
10
 
See
G
ORDON
A.
 
M
ARTIN
 ,
 
 J
R
.,
 
C
OUNT
T
HEM
O
NE
B
Y
O
NE
:
 
B
LACK
M
ISSISSIPPIANS
F
IGHTINGFOR THE
R
IGHT TO
V
OTE
 ,
 
at x (2010).
11
349 F.2d 790 (5th Cir. 1965)
.
 
12
M
ARTIN
 ,
supra
note 10, at x.
13
 
See id.
at 211-12.
14
 
Id.
at 212.
15
 
Id.
at 43.
 
K
ATZMANN
F
INAL
(D
O
N
OT
D
ELETE
) 4/17/2013
 
11:46
 
AM
2012
Seeking Justice
353
First Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston; as a legislative aide to SenatorEdward Kennedy; as a private practitioner; as a national leader in juvenile justice; as a Massachusetts District Court Judge; as a Visiting Professor atthe University of Mississippi; and as an Adjunct Professor at New EnglandLaw| Boston—returned to Hattiesburg nearly thirty years after thelitigation, to chronicle the lives of the key participants.As Martin describes it, the Forrest County of the 1950s and 60s was aworld of “state-financed investigations, spies, and informers intimidatingand punishing any black citizens in the state bold enough to assert theirrights, even by trumping up false charges and applying outrageous prisonsentences for them.”
16
At the core of the book are the stories of the sixteen black witnesses who Martin prepared for trial. Five were teachers, threemen and two women, all with master’s degrees awarded or in process fromprestigious northern universities. Six of the witnesses were workersemployed by Hercules Powder Company, Hattiesburg’s major factory.They filled skilled jobs once reserved for whites. Three of the witnesseswere ministers. Two were lay leaders, including Vernon Dahmer who waslater murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Their testimony contrasted with thetestimony given by four white witnesses, who testified that they were notgiven any literacy tests or required to answer substantive legal questionswhen they registered to vote. The black witnesses, however, offeredtestimony that they were required to pass such tests and to answercomplex questions about various statutory and constitutional provisions.As the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit would observe,a reading of the sections provided to the black witnesses “demonstrate[d] beyond any question that by any objective standard those supplied to theNegro applicants were longer, more complicated, and more difficult.”
17
 Though the answers were often, in the words of the appellate court,“worthy of a law review editor,”
18
the black witnesses were nonethelessdenied the right to vote. Consider the answer given by Jesse Stegall in hisapplication:
The legislature has the power to establish corporations. Thelegislature also has the power to abolish such corporationsprovided that no injustices are done to its stockholders. Underthis section of the Constitution of Mississippi, no charter shall beissued to corporations for capital gain more than a period ofninety-nine years. The property and franchise of corporationshaving charters exceeding ninety-nine years shall be assessed fortaxes and subject to the right of surrendering excess length of
16
 
Id.
at 18.
17
United States v. Lynd, 301 F.2d 818, 822 n.1 (5th Cir. 1962).
18
United States v. Lynd, 349 F.2d 790, 792 n.4 (5th Cir. 1965).

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