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Charles Conley Collection

Attorney Charles Conley served as attorney of record for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Montgomery Improvement Association, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Charles Swinger Conley (1921-2010) was born in Montgomery County in 1921. He attended private school, and upon high school graduation, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Alabama State College, his master’s in history from University of Michigan and his jurisprudence degree from New York University Law School. Attorney Conley returned to Montgomery and served as attorney of record from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Montgomery Improvement Association, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Cases involved the desegregation of public libraries and the L. B. Sullivan vs. New York Times, Inc, Reverends Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, J. E. Lowery, S. S. Seay, Sr. and Fred Shuttlesworth. The case revolved around a fund-raising appeal, "Heed Their Rising Voices," by the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South, that appeared in the New York Times newspaper in 1960. The appeal highlighted that "truckloads of Montgomery police armed with shotguns and tear-gas" had ringed Alabama State College campus (The Black college), padlocked the college’s dining hall and prohibited students, faculty and staff from leaving the college. Though the appeal did not mention by name, L. B. Sullivan was police commissioner. Nevertheless, Sullivan filed a libel suit.

Attorney Conley was elected in 1972 as Alabama’s first Black judge of the Court of Common Pleas (Macon County). This court system changed to that of a District Court, and Judge Conley was re-elected in 1976.

Attorney Conley, though retired from an active law practice, is sought by other lawyers for legal advice, and he often serves as attorney of record for cases as recent as 1992.

Charles Conley Civil Rights Legal Papers, 1956-1992

Table of Content
Descriptive Summary
Administrative Information
Scope and Content
Index
Biography
Container List

Descriptive Summary
Title: Charles Conley Civil Rights Legal Papers, 1956-1992
Collection Numbers: Barcodes #402939, 402940 and 403050
Creator: Charles Conley, Esquire
Size: 2 cu ft
Repository: H. Council Trenholm State Community College

Administrative Information Provenance
Gift of Charles Conley
Processed by Dr. Gwendolyn M. Patton
Container List
L. B. Sullivan vs. New York Times, a Corporation, Ralph D. Abernathy, Fred L. Shuttlesworth, S. S. Seay, Sr., and J. E. Lowery

Box 1 (#402939)

Original Montgomery County Circuit Court documents, outlining the charge of libel, motions, summons, oral arguments, appeals to state and U. S. Supreme Courts, correspondences to the case, confidential memoranda, and case status.

Box 2 (#402940)

Original carbon copy of U. S. Supreme Court transcript and original New York Times "Heed Their Rising Voices" fund-raising appeal advertisement.

Box 3 (#403050)

Parks vs. New York Times, et al, Abernathy vs. Alabama Governor H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College, Alabama State College Charles Conley Civil Rights Legal Papers, 1956-1992

H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College Archives students’ affidavits, requesting that Attorney Conley serves as their legal counselor, ...Hosea Williams et al vs. Frank Lee (AL Commissioner of Corrections) et al, Gwendolyn M. Patton vs. Billy Joe Camp (AL Secretary of State), discrimination in jury selection, memorandum on Touncey vs. New York Life Insurance, Co., and Personal Papers to include hand-written notes and newspaper articles.

One video-tape interview on shelf.

Scope and Content

The Charles Conley Civil Rights Legal Papers specifically document the L. B. Sullivan vs. The New York Times Co., a corporation, Ralph D. Abernathy, Fred L. Shuttlesworth, S.S. Seay, Sr. and J. E. Lowery and Parks vs The New York Times Co. et al, counter suits of said cases and appeals of said cases up to the U. S. Supreme Court, which ruled that citizens had the right to criticize public officials in the public domain. This case is the current case law on First Amendment Rights. This case(s) grew from a 1960 ad that was placed in the New York Times newspaper soliciting contributions for the Southern Civil Rights Movement. Other cases include memoranda on Toucey vs. New York Life Insurance, Co., Gwen Patton vs. Alabama Secretary of State, and a class action suit against the Alabama Board of Corrections. The Papers include interview questions for jury selections and Alabama State College students’ affidavits requesting the legal services of Attorney Charles Conley. The papers are divided into the following series: Legal cases, comprising of legal documents, memoranda and hand-written notes on legal strategies and Personal to include correspondences and news articles.

Index

The Charles Conley Civil Rights Legal Papers specifically document the L. B. Sullivan vs. The New York Times Co., a corporation, Ralph D. Abernathy, Fred L. Shuttlesworth, S.S. Seay, Sr. and J. E. Lowery and Parks vs The New York Times Co. et al, counter suits of said cases and appeals of said cases up to the U. S. Supreme Court, which ruled that citizens had the right to criticize public officials in the public domain. This case is the current case law on First Amendment Rights. This case(s) grew from a 1960 ad that was placed in the New York Times newspaper soliciting contributions for the Southern Civil Rights Movement. Other cases include memoranda on Toucey vs. New York Life Insurance, Co., Gwen Patton vs. Alabama Secretary of State, and a class action suit against the Alabama Board of Corrections. The Papers include interview questions for jury selections and Alabama State College students’ affidavits requesting the legal services of Attorney Charles Conley. The papers are divided into the following series: Legal cases, comprising of legal documents, memoranda and hand-written notes on legal strategies and Personal to include correspondences and news articles.

  • "Heed Their Rising Voices," NY Times Advertisement
  •  Abernathy, Ralph (Rev.)
  • Alabama State College
  • Alabama Board of Corrections
  • Camp, Billy Joe (Alabama Secretary of State
  • Com. to Defend Martin Luther King and the So. Movement
  • Jury Selections
  • King, Martin Luther Jr. (Rev. Dr.)
  • Lowery, Joseph E (Rev.)
  • Montgomery County Circuit Court
  • New York Times Company
  • Parks, Frank W.
  • Patterson, John (Alabama Governor)
  • Patton, Gwendolyn M
  • Pryor, Calvin (Esq.)
  • Seay, Solomon Snowdoun Sr. (Rev.)
  • Seay, Solomon S. Jr (Esq.)
  • Shuttlesworth, Fred (Rev.)
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Sullivan, L. B. (Montgomery Police Commissioner)
  • Toucey vs. New York Life Insurance Company
  • U. S. Supreme Court
  • U. S. District Court
  • Williams, Hosea

Inventory of Charles Conley Civil Rights Legal Papers, 1956-1992

H. Councill Trenholm State Community College
Processed by: Dr. Gwendolyn M. Patton
Date completed: June 2001

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