TUTTLE, Chief Judge:
This is another suit brought by the United States under the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1960, seeking to enjoin a Mississippi county registrar from engaging in racially discriminatory acts and practices to deprive Negro citizens of the right to register and vote, without distinction of race or color.
Filed, as it was, in August, 1961, the history of this litigation largely paralled a similar suit brought in Panola County several months later, in October, 1961. That action was finally terminated in this court when, on May 22nd of this year, we entered an opinion in the case of United States of America v. Duke, et al., 5 Cir., 332 F.2d 759, directing the trial court in the Northern District of Mississippi to enter an injunction largely as prayed for by the United States.
Because of the great similarity of the proof that was presented to the trial court in this case with that which was considered by us in the Duke case, and particularly in light of the specific findings by the trial court here, our recitation of the factual circumstances upon which we conclude that similar disposition is required in this case, can be considerably abbreviated.
At the time this suit was filed there were 4536 white persons and 2490 Negroes of voting age in Walthall County, Mississippi. The registration books showed that there were 4738 white persons currently registered to vote, and no Negroes. There had been a complete re-registration of the voters of Walthall County in 1946. The record does not disclose the reason for such re-registration. However, since the Mississippi statutes appear not to require a regular purging of the rolls on account of the death or removal of registrants, it may be that when the current rolls show substantially more registrants than there are eligible voters, the county election officials require a complete re-registration, under the provision of the Mississippi law, when "a new registration is necessary to determine correctly the names of the qualified electors."
Even if these statistics are not proof of the fact, cf. United States ex rel. Goldsby v. Harpole, 5 Cir., 263 F.2d 71, 78, we find that the record before the trial court here fully substantiates the contention of the United States that,
White persons who applied were permitted to register without complying with the current and increasingly difficult provisions of the voters' registration statutes enacted by the state of Mississippi on a time schedule that coincided with the indications that more Negroes would make the effort to register. As a result of this, "the barriers grew successfully higher, so that in 1960 the understanding clause was inserted, and in 1962 the good character requirement was added."
The registrar permitted illiterate white persons to register and gave assistance to white registrants in the filling out of their registration forms, so that it turned out, as was the case in Panola County, "the application was treated largely as an information form when submitted by a white person. It was a test of skill for the Negro. It was not even a test of literacy for the white, whereas any Negro applicant demonstrated his literacy in filling out the form. Moreover, even though aid was available to the white applicant when construing a section of the Constitution of the state of Mississippi, the sections given to such applicants were much simpler and shorter sections than those given to the Negroes to write and construe." On this point the trial court, in this case, found as a fact:
It is not necessary further to recite the specific evidence touching on these matters, other than to say that these findings were supported by ample testimony. However, since part of the basis for the refusal of the trial court to find the existence of "a pattern or practice" of discrimination touching on voting rights, depends upon the trial court's assumption that the relatively small number of Negro applicants for registration was "occasioned solely by reason of the fact that Negroes have not been interested in registering to vote," and that "no probative value can be ascribed to such statistics [4738 white registrants and no Negro registrants] because such imbalance in registration is not due in any part to any discrimination between the races," it is necessary to refer to one incident. On one occasion a Negro college student from Tennessee, who had been assisting in teaching Walthall County Negroes about how registration could be accomplished accompanied two prospective registrants to the office of
It is undisputed that when Mrs. Peters and Mr. Wilson applied to defendant Wood for the right to register, Mr. Wood replied that since litigation was pending he would not register them. Thereupon, John Hardy, the student, introduced himself and started to apologize; whereupon Mr. Wood took a pistol out of a drawer and told Hardy to get out and, following him to the door, struck him in the head with the pistol. The trial judge, in his findings of fact, referred to this as "an assault."
Because of the remedial steps that are available under the Civil Rights Act, upon the finding by a trial court of the existence of a "pattern or practice" of deprivation of a voting privilege on account of race or color, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1971(e), the United States expressly moved the trial court to make such findings of pattern or practice. This the court declined to do on the stated ground, "There is no need or necessity for any finding by the court as to pattern or practice. There were relatively so few Negroes who applied to register to vote that it would be difficult if not impossible to make any fair determination on that question under the circumstances in this case. But that is not important to a proper disposition of this case under proper control by the court in this case in the further registrations by that office under the orders of the court accompanying these findings."
The trial court, while finding the existence of all of the facts that would constitute a pattern or practice of discrimination, nevertheless declined to make that specific finding. However, a finding of a pattern or practice is either warranted or not according to the facts, not what they were called. Where, as here, the court found a continual course of conduct constituting the policy of the registrar, which is discriminatory, this was tantamount to a finding of pattern or practice within the definition of the statute so as to call into play the procedural benefits arising under Section 1971(e). We dealt with this fully in United States v. Mayton, 5 Cir., 335 F.2d 153, where, at page 158, we said: "The words pattern or practice were not intended to be words of art. No magic phrase need be said to set in train the remedy provided in § 1971(e)." See also the legislative history discussed at page 159.
As we did in the Duke case, supra, we conclude that the trial court erred in not finding a pattern or practice of discrimination on the record before us.
The trial court here, as did the trial court in the Duke case, arrived at the conclusion that the Negro residents who had attempted to register and who had been denied the opportunity, "were properly rejected by the registrar as being unqualified under any sort of reasonable application of proper tests." This finding disregards the fact that the evidence was overwhelming that white persons
We find that at the time of trial substantially all of the eligible white voters in Walthall County, Mississippi, had been registered without being required to submit to any of the onerous tests or requirements. Some had even been permitted to register before they were of proper age and some who were completely illiterate. The remedy called for, therefore, is in all respects the same as that which we found appropriate in the Duke case. In that case we said:
The order entered by the trial court here must be vacated and set aside because it does not remedy the injustices resulting from the pattern and practice of discrimination that has thus far existed in Walthall County. The trial court correctly, of course, enjoined any future discrimination. This, however, was not sufficient. The effect of its order was to freeze the discrimination permanently.
Although uniformity can not often be achieved with respect to different voting units, we can see no reason why the remedy to be afforded the Negro citizens of Walthall County should not, in all respects, be the same as that which this court afforded by its order for Panola County in the Duke case. We, therefore, pattern the language of the opinion describing the relief to which the United States is entitled here after that which we prescribed in that case.
We have been advised that since the trial of this case Mr. Wood has died and his successor, Joe M. Stinson, has taken over the office of registrar of Walthall County. This fact also parallels the situation in the Duke case. As we did there, we rule that Mr. Stinson is a proper party as a successor in office to Mr. Wood. This is provided for by Rule 19(4) of this court. Also, he was made a party to the injunction entered by the trial court who used the terminology, "John Q. Wood, as registrar of Walthall County, Mississippi, and his successors in office, under penalty of law, be and each is hereby enjoined:" Mr. Stinson's motion to dismiss the appeal as to him is, therefore denied.
The trial court dismissed the suit as against the state of Mississippi. For reasons stated by us in the Duke case, we conclude that this was error. The fact that the registrar is elected by the local officials of Walthall County does not change his status as an official of the state of Mississippi. Moreover, since the freeze order which will have to be entered by the trial court contemplates the temporary suspension of the state's statutes regulating registration unless the state should see fit to cause re-registration of all the voters of this county, the state's presence as a defendant is essential to the granting of complete relief. See United States v. Duke et al., 5 Cir., 332 F.2d 759.
The trial court's order dismissing the state as a defendant is, therefore, reversed and set aside.
Provided that reasonable opportunities to register are given to the Negro citizens of Walthall County, there should be a limitation upon the time during which they may take advantage of the special registration which the trial court's order will provide. This court will not attempt to frame the terms of the order to be issued by the trial court, but is is strongly suggested that a period of a year after the date of the trial court's order should be adequate for those Negroes who desire to do so to undertake to complete their registration upon the terms outlined, provided, however,
As further guidance to the trial court in the framing of its decree, we suggest that the defendants should be enjoined from determining the qualifications of Negro citizens in Walthall County in any manner or by any procedure different from and more stringent than the following which have heretofore been used by defendant Wood and his deputies in determining the qualifications of white voters: (a) that the applicant is or will be 21 years of age or older prior to the next election; (b) that the applicant is entitled to apply for registration without regard to whether such applicant has previously paid poll taxes; (c) that the applicant be afforded the opportunity to apply and complete the application form when either the registrar himself is present or the deputy registrar; (d) that applicants be not required to apply one at a time but persons presenting themselves to apply for registration shall be permitted to complete the applications simultaneously to the extent that the physical facilities of the registration office reasonably permit; (e) that applicants be advised at the time they apply, if a registrar or his deputy is present, as to whether they are accepted or rejected and, if they are accepted, that they be registered at such time.
The order should also require that in conducting registration of voters in Walthall County, the defendant must not use any qualifications as a prerequisite to registration other than the following which we conclude have heretofore been used by Wood and his deputies with respect to the registration of white applicants:
1. He is a citizen and is or will be 21 years of age or older at the time of the next election;
2. He has resided in the state two years and in the election district in which he intends to vote one year;
3. He embraces the duties and obligations of citizenship as demonstrated by his willingness to take and sign the oath to bear allegiance to the constitution of the United States and the State of Mississippi;
4. He is not disqualified by reason of conviction of a disqualifying crime, insanity or idiocy;
5. He is able to demonstrate a reasonable ability to read and write by completion of Questions 1 through 18 of the application form with or without assistance by defendant Wood or his agents, as needed.
The trial court should also require that the defendant registrar and his successors file a monthly report with the Clerk of the trial court with a copy to be mailed to the plaintiff's counsel monthly showing the names and dates of application for registration during the previous monthly period and the race of the applicant, the action taken on the application and, if the application is rejected, the specific reason or reasons for such rejection. The first of such reports shall cover the period from the date of the last application form, presented at the trial in this case, April 10, 1963.
The trial court shall retain jurisdiction of the case in order to make certain that the registration records of Walthall County are made available to attorneys or agents of the United States at all reasonable times in the office of the Circuit Clerk for the purpose of inspection, copying and photographing.
It being called to the attention of the court that Joe M. Stinson, Esquire, has now succeeded to the office of registrar of Walthall County, Mississippi, it is ordered that the said Joe M. Stinson be, and he is hereby substituted as a party defendant in this proceeding in accordance
The judgment of the trial court is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.