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United States v. Price

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States v. Price
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Argued November 9, 1965
Decided March 28, 1966
Full case nameUnited States v. Cecil Price, et al.
Citations383 U.S. 787 (more)
86 S. Ct. 1152; 16 L. Ed. 2d 267
Case history
PriorIndictments dismissed by District Court (reversed and remanded)
Subsequent7 of the 18 defendants convicted on remand
The 14th amendment grants the United States authority to indict state actors and all private citizens who assist state actors during alleged crimes became de-facto state actors themselves and as a result, find themselves in the exact same legal jeopardy as the de jure state actors they assisted. District court reversed.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Earl Warren
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · William O. Douglas
Tom C. Clark · John M. Harlan II
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Abe Fortas
Case opinions
MajorityFortas, joined by unanimous

United States v. Cecil Price, et al., also known as the Mississippi Burning trial or Mississippi Burning case, was a criminal trial where the United States charged a group of 18 men with conspiring in a Ku Klux Klan plot to murder three young civil rights workers – Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman – in Philadelphia, Mississippi on June 21, 1964 during Freedom Summer. The trial, conducted in Meridian, Mississippi with U.S. District Court Judge W. Harold Cox presiding, resulted in convictions of 7 of the 18 defendants.

Initial proceedings

Indictments were originally presented against 18 defendants, three of whom were officials of the Mississippi government, for conspiracy to commit as well as substantial violations of deprivation of rights secured or protected by the Constitution. The District Court initially dismissed the indictments, but the dismissal was unanimously reversed by the Supreme Court upon appeal. The trial then proceeded.


Guilty verdicts were returned against:

Not guilty verdicts were returned for:

No verdict was reached for:


An all-white, mostly working-class jury consisting of five men and seven women heard the case. The jurors were:

  • Langdon Smith Anderson (foreman), a Lumberton oil exploration operator and member of the State Agricultural and Industrial Board
  • Mrs. S.M. Green, a Hattiesburg housewife
  • Mrs. Lessie Lowery, a Hiwannee grocery store owner
  • Howard O. Winborn, a Petal pipefitter
  • Harmon W. Raspberry, a Stonewall textile worker
  • Mrs. Gussie B. Staton, a Union housewife
  • Jessie P. Hollingsworth, a Moss Point electrician
  • Mrs. James C. Heflin, a Lake production worker
  • Mrs. Nell B. Dedeaux, a Lumberton housewife
  • Willie V. Arneson, a Meridian secretary
  • Edsell Z. Parks, a Brandon clerk
  • Adelaide H. Comer, a cook at an Ocean Springs school cafeteria


The penalties exacted by the federal penal system were,

  • for Price: sentenced to six years in prison, and served four years
  • for Bowers: sentenced to ten years in prison, and served six years
  • for Barnette: sentenced to three years in prison
  • for Arledge: sentenced to three years in prison
  • for Posey: sentenced to six years in prison
  • for Snowden: sentenced to three years in prison, and served two years
  • for Roberts: sentenced to ten years in prison, and served six years

Film adaptation

In 1988, the film Mississippi Burning was loosely based on the trial and the events surrounding the murder. It starred Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe as two FBI agents who travel to Mississippi to uncover the events surrounding the disappearance of three civil rights workers.

Several of the fictitious characters in the movie were based on real-life defendants in the trial. Deputy Sheriff Clinton Pell (played by Brad Dourif) was based on Cecil Ray Price, Sheriff Ray Stuckey (played by Gailard Sartain) was based on Sheriff Lawrence Rainey, and Frank Bailey (played by Michael Rooker) was based on Alton W. Roberts. The film also starred R. Lee Ermey and Frances McDormand.

See also

Further reading

  • Linder, Douglas O. (2002). "Bending Toward Justice: John Doar and the "Mississippi Burning Trial"". Mississippi Law Review. 72 (2): 731–79. SSRN 1109093.


  1. ^ Jerry Mitchell, The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger (February 4, 2014). "Congressional honor sought for Freedom Summer martyrs". USA Today. Retrieved February 11, 2014.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links

This page was last edited on 14 August 2021, at 19:52
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