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The Green Bag (2015)
  • Ralph J. Moore, Jr.

A wry account of the work of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1959 Term by one of Chief Justice Earl Warren's law clerks. It gives accounts of the Court's handling of three cases that term, one involving Sam Thompson, who was harassed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, one involving Leon Wolfe and friends, who were convicted of criminal trespass for playing golf on a Jim Crow course on city-owned land in Greensboro, North Carolina, and one involving Clifton Poret and Edgar Labat, who spent years on death row in Louisiana after conviction for raping a white woman, convictions based in part on subsequently recanted testimony of a mentally deficient man. It discusses internal Supreme Court procedures then and now with respect to certiorari petitions, prisoners' petitions, capital cases, and preparation of opinions. It also discusses roles of law clerks, diversity among Justices and clerks, and prior judicial experience as a prerequisite for appointment to the Court, including John Roberts' suggestion that judges are like baseball umpires. Chief Justice Warren and Justices Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, William Brennan and Potter Stewart are the principal players, but Justices William O. Douglas, Tom Clark and Charles Whittaker are also mentioned, as are Chief Justices Stone and Vinson from earlier Courts and statements of Sonia Sotomayor and William Rehnquist before their ascension to the Court. Louis Lusky, Dean Acheson and Adlai Stevenson also figure in these accounts. Cases discussed include United States v. Carolene Products, Brown v. Board of Education, Thompson v. Louisville, Wolfe v. North Carolina, and Poret and Labat v. Sigler.

Publication Date
Citation Information
Ralph J. Moore, Jr., "SHUFFLING SAM THOMPSON AND OTHER NOTES FROM THE 1959 TERM" (2015) Available at: (to be published in forthcoming issue of The Green Bag)