Page 23


Federal District DAVID HATHCOX . Judge William Wayne Justice substantially segregated. In United States v. Texas, as affirmed, Justice undertook the supervision of desegregation of specific public schools. He ordered the state education agency tO stop sanctioning discriminatory arrangements. He prohibited discrimination in extracurricular activities, personnel policies and student treatment. He declared that Mexican Americans are entitled to the same protections against discrimination as African Americans. “But,” he says, “I was just one judge in East Texas, with no one to help in the enforcement of the order.” By judicially defining and protecting the rights of juveniles in reform schools, in Morales v. Turman, Justice protected kids from being locked up because of parental and official oppression and set standards of justice for juveniles that are followed or referred to throughout the country. Only a small percentage of the youths in Texas institutions had committed crimes of violence; a third of the boys and two-thirds of the girls were locked up because their parents could not control them. After Justice conducted an investigation by questionnaire, the state admitted denying wholesale the rights of troubled youths and signed an agreement guaranteeing every child about to be locked up the right to an attorney. The Legislature then changed the family code to comply. In state institutions sometimes brutal punishment was the dominant mode and dumb makework the rule. After touring some of these places himself, Justice ordered the use of force sharply curtailed, prohibited makework, required an individual treatment plan for each youth, guaranteed many other rights of the inmates, and ordered the worst reform schools, at Mountain View and Gatesville, closed. “The decision,” Kemerer writes, “was the first from a federal court to set forth requirements for the treatment of juveniles in state institutions…. Morales is regarded even by top officials of the Texas Youth Commission as a shining example of successful court-induced institutional reform.” For mentally retarded persons in state institutions, Justice, in Lelsz v. Kavanagh, and the follow-on judge in the case, Judge Harold Barefoot Sanders of Dallas, set new standards to prevent their abuse, neglect and senseless punishment and provided the judicial findings which impelled state officials and the Legislature to shift from the warehousing of the retarded in big institutions toward the provision for them in community settings, “for example, ordinary homes and work places.” Here, too, Justice achieved the recognition of the right of mentally retarded persons to individualized services developed by interdisciplinary teams. Responding in 1985, Gov. Mark White signed a law providing for communitybased living centers in residential areas. Despite spirited resistance from the bureaucracy and a Fifth Circuit reversal, Justice had prevailed. A lawyer representing the mentally retarded plaintiffs said, “The Judge’s order prompted this amazing explosion of very good things for people with mental retardation.” As a member of a three-judge court, Justice participated in Graves v. Barnes, which established in Texas the constitutional principle requiring single-member districts. This requirement, approximately speaking, has ended white domination of the Legislature and local governing boards and has enabled racial minori ties to elect officials from the residential areas where the minorities are concentrated. Until 1968 no black had ever run for the Texas Legislature. Only five Hispanics from Bexar County had ever served in the Legislature. In 1975, prodded by the three-member court, the Legislature replaced all multimember districts with single-member districts, and the rest is, literally, history. In 1975 the Legislature required alien children to pay $1,000 tuition before they could attend public schools. Justice was the first federal judge to consider the issue, and he ruled, in Doe v. Plyler, under the clause in the Constitution that no state “shall deny to any per son within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” that such children had to be allowed to attend school without such special tuition charges. In 1982 the Supreme Court upheld Justice on this, although only 5-4. Consider what this one decision, alone, has meant for millions of children and their parents. In United States v. Texas strengthened by the state’s formal and extensive admission that Texas historically had discriminated systematically against MexicanAmerican students, Justice proposed requiring that bilingual eduCation be provided to all such students of limited proficiency in English at all grade levels in the public schools. Shocked, the state’s lawyers withdrew the state’s earlier momentous admission of historical discrimination \(a “detestable” act, Justice called the rushed in to significantly expand bilingual programs. Then, in 1982, an all-Republican panel of Fifth Circuit judges reversed Justice, but in part, too late: Some of the good had been done. The Supreme Court having held that in some cases public employment is a property right which cannot be denied without due process, Justice, in Roane ,v. Callisburg Independent School District, overturned the dismissal of a superintendent in a landmark case for educators, and, in Dennis v. S&S Consolidated Rural High School District, erected a new barrier against the public stigmatizing of public school employees without affording them due process. In Young v. Pierce, a bellwether case which challenged head-on the supine submission of the federal housing bureaucracy to racism, Justice held the federal housing agency liable for failing ro affirmatively combat racial discrimination in public housing. In a sideeffect, the Dallas Morning News won a Pulitzer for its documentation of racial discrimination in federally subsidized housing nationwide. Justice was the first federal judge to appoint a special master in a housing desegregation case. He required HUD to end segregated public housing in his region. Still, some such segregation persists there. Most famously, perhaps, Justice compelled, by his gutsy rulings in Ruiz v. Estelle, the state’s abandonment of the corrupt economizing system whereby prison inmates were set on other inmates as guards, often with weapons, and left free and unsupervised to wreak heinous brutality beatings, knifings, rapes in the prisons. Remarkably, as Kemerer relates, Justice constructed this case out of his file of complaints from inmates in Texas prisons, asked an NAACP attorney to represent the thusselected plaintiffs, and systematically placed himself in a position to change the prison sys 18 OCTOBER 16, 1992