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Application of Young

Supreme Court of Delaware

March 11, 1954

Application of YOUNG, Atty. Gen.

Application by attorney general for additional compensation for representing state in matter before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, Southerland, C. J., held that the attorney general would be awarded one year's salary, which was $7,500, for services rendered in briefing and arguing issues relating to segregation in public schools, which word extended over period of fourteen months.

Application granted.

Page 264

[34 Del.Ch. 323] SOUTHERLAND, Chief Justice.

This is an application by the Attorney General for compensation, in addition to his salary, for services in representing the State before the Supreme Court of the United States in the cases of Gebhart v. Belton and Gebhart v. Bulah, (No. 448, Oct. Term, 1952, and No. 10, Oct. Term, 1953), involving the issue of segregation in the public schools of the State of Delaware. Such additional compensation is authorized by the provisions of 29 Del.C. § 2501, which read:

‘ § 2501. Salary

‘ (a) The salary of the Attorney General shall be $7,500 per annum.

‘ (b) Whenever the Attorney General of this State has appeared for the State in the Supreme Court of the United States in any suit, writ of error or appeal to which the State is a party, and has argued on behalf of the State the questions involved in such suit, writ of error or appeal, there shall be paid to him by [34 Del.Ch. 324] the State Treasurer such sum, in addition to his salary, as may be approved by the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of this State, by a certificate in writing.’

The facts are these:

Our decision in the Gebhart cases, Del., 91 A.2d 137, denied the State's request for time to equalize the school facilities, and affirmed the Chancellor's order that the plaintiffs be forthwith admitted to the schools for white pupils. Upon advice of the Attorney General the State applied for and was granted certiorari from the Supreme Court of the United States in order that this single question-the nature of the relief to be given-should be reviewed by that Court. 344 U.S. 891, 73 S.Ct. 213, 97 L.Ed. 689.

At that time (November 1952) there were awaiting argument in that Court four other cases involving the much broader issue of the constitutionality of segregation in the public schools. These cases, and the Delaware case, were argued in December 1952. The Attorney General prepared the brief and made the argument on behalf of the State of Delaware upon the question of relief. On June 8, 1953, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the cases restored to the docket for reargument in October and requested counsel for all of the parties, including the State of Delaware, to brief and argue ten questions touching both the constitutional issue and the issue of relief. See 345 U.S. 972, 73 S.Ct. 1114-1118, 97 L.Ed. 1388. The Attorney General thereafter briefed and argued these matters.

A reading of the questions propounded by the Supreme Court of the United States shows clearly that an adequate and intelligent discussion of them entailed extensive historical research by counsel on constitutional and social questions, and in particular research into the circumstances surrounding the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the federal Constitution and the enactment of contemporary federal legislation relating to the civil rights of the Negro. The Attorney General found it necessary to employ counsel to assist him. Louis J. Finger, Esquire, a former Deputy Attorney General, was retained for this purpose. Delaware counsel examined and digested the Congressional Debates touching these matters, as well as source [34 Del.Ch. 325] material gathered by other counsel relating to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment by the ratifying states. As appears from their main brief on reargument, counsel also developed from historical material the background of segregation in Delaware and of our constitutional provisions of 1897 providing for equal but separate public schools. Const. art. 10, § 2, Del.C.Ann.

Such a task inevitably consumed a great amount of time, and the efficient handling of such material in briefs and arguments called for arduous and sustained intellectual effort. The Attorney General estimates that from September 1952 to December

Page 265

1953 he devoted an average of fifty hours a month ...


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