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45 J. Urb. L. 841 (1967-68)
Recorder's Court and the 1967 Civil Disturbance

handle is hein.journals/udetmr45 and id is 843 raw text is: Recorder's Court and the 1967
Civil Disturbance*
A United States Senate Committee recently suggested that Detroit's
Recorder's Court was too lenient in its handling of cases growing
out of Detroit's civil disturbance last summer.' I assume the Committee
had reference to the fact that the large bulk of the 1967 riot cases on
our docket have been and are being disposed of as simple misdemeanors
instead of felonies; and the sentences generally are limted to the time
spent by the defendant in jail while awaiting reasonable bail or the
final disposition of the case.
I disagree with the Senate Committee. Instead, I suggest that we
judges (perhaps subconsciously) are belatedly endeavoring to make
amends for the wholesale denial of the constitutional rights of virtually
everyone who was arrested during that disturbance. And I include my-
self in this indictment. As the report of the President's Commission
on Civil Disorders points out,2 the bails fixed by me were the lowest in
the Court; but they still were much higher than they should have been.
Nor am I convinced that there is general appreciation even now of
the full extent of the injustices we committed by our refusal to recog-
nize the right to immediate bail and our objection to fixing reasonable
bail. Some of the cases which have come before me as a result of the
curfew imposed following the death of Dr. King, suggest that the pros-
ecutor's office and the policemen in the street have learned nothing
from last summer's experience; and this has serious implications for the
coming summer.
The situation we faced last summer is authoritatively summed up
in the recent Report of the President's National Advisory Commission
on Civil Disorders:
In all, more than 7,200 persons were arrested. Almost
3,000 of these were picked up on the second day of the riot,
and by midnight Monday 4,000 were incarcerated in make-
shift jails. Some were kept as long as 30 hours on buses. Others
spent days in an underground garage without toilet facilities.
An uncounted number were people who had merely been un-
Portion of remarks prepared for delivery to the American Civil Liberties Union
conference at Detroit, Michigan, April 20, 1968.
** B.A., Morehouse, 1931; L.L.B. University of Michigan, 1984; Judge, Recorders'
Court, City of Detroit, Michigan.
COMM'N ON CIVIL DxsoRDERs (Bantam, 1968) [hereinafter referred to as 'Kerner Report].
2. Id. at 342 note 9.

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