Rodriguez v. San Antonio Independent School Dist.

299 F. Supp. 476 (W.D. Tex. 1969)

 

RULE:

This designation and composition of the 3-Judge Court is not a prejudgment, express or implied, as to whether this is properly a case for a 3-Judge rather than a one-Judge Court. This is a matter best determined by the 3-Judge Court as this enables a simultaneous appeal to the Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court without the delay, awkwardness, and administrative insufficiency of a proceeding by way of mandamus from either the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, or both, directed against the Chief Judge of the Circuit, the presiding District Judge, or both. The parties will be afforded the opportunity to brief and argue all such questions before the 3-Judge panel either preliminarily or on the trial of the merits, or otherwise, as that Court thinks appropriate.

FACTS:

The residents filed an action against defendant school districts contending that the Texas system that allowed each independent school district to collect taxes for use exclusively within that particular school district violated the constitutional rights of children in poorer districts to an equal education. As an initial matter, the court considered the residents' request that the matter be heard by a three-judge court. The court noted that the attorney general and the criminal district attorney were made parties to the case even though no evidence suggested that they had any connection with the enforcement of these statutes. Therefore, the court held that a three-judge panel was inappropriate where the matter at hand involved only the residents' complaint against the school districts; a one-judge matter.

ISSUE:

Should the matter be heard by a three-judge court?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

In view of the fact that the issue relating to the propriety of having three judges try this cause "can readily be determined on briefs without the judges physically assembling in one place to convene a court session formally", Jackson v. Choate, supra, at 913, we conclude, without a formal court session, that, in the present posture of this case, this is a one-judge, not a three-judge matter. As a consequence, this cause is remanded to the presiding judge, who will initially decide the case on its merits; provided, however, that since the parties have requested oral argument on pending motions, and the credibility of witnesses might very well be an issue at the trial on the merits, all members of this panel, in order to keep themselves fully informed, will assemble in one place to convene court formally at such (times) as shall be necessary to hear all oral arguments to be submitted, and to try this case on its merits. 

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