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Law School Case Brief

Adderley v. Florida - 385 U.S. 39, 87 S. Ct. 242 (1966)


A state, no less than a private owner of property, has power to preserve the property under its control for the use to which it is lawfully dedicated.


Petitioners, Harriett Louise Adderley and 31 other persons, were among the 200 people who, by demonstrating against their schoolmates' arrest, had blocked a non-public jail driveway. The sheriff, advised them that they were trespassing on county property and would have to leave or be arrested. The 107 demonstrators refused to and were arrested. The district court convicted them for trespass with malicious and mischievous intent. Petitioners contended that their convictions, which were affirmed by the Florida Circuit Court and the District Court of Appeal, deprived them of their rights of free speech, assembly, petition, due process of law and equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment


Can the petitioners be convicted for trespass when the trespass was incidental to the exercise of their right to free speech, assembly and petition?




The Court held that the convictions did not unconstitutionally deprive the petitioners of their rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly, or petition. The Court held that there was ample evidence to support petitioners' trespass convictions for remaining on jail grounds reserved for jail uses after they had been directed to leave by the sheriff. According to the Court, there was no evidence at all that petitioners were arrested or convicted for their views or objectives. Furthermore, the Court ruled that the Florida trespass statute, as applied in the case at bar, wherein petitioners demonstrated on the premises of a jail, which is built for security purposes and was not open to the public, is aimed at conduct of a limited kind and is not unconstitutionally vague as were the common-law, breach-of-the-peace statutes invalidated in previous jurisprudence.

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