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Donovan v. City of Dallas

377 U.S. 408 (1964)

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Donovan v. City of Dallas

United States Supreme Court

377 U.S. 408 (1964)

Facts

James Donovan (plaintiff) and other Dallas citizens sued the City of Dallas (defendant) to stop the expansion of a local airport. The case was tried, summary judgment was given to the city, the Texas Court of Civil Appeals affirmed, the Texas Supreme Court denied review, and the United States Supreme Court denied cert. Later, Donovan filed a similar action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The city applied to the Texas Court of Civil Appeals for a writ of prohibition to bar the plaintiffs from pursuing the federal suit. The Texas Court of Civil Appeals denied relief, but the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Texas Court of Civil Appeals could enjoin the plaintiffs. The Texas Supreme Court ordered the Texas Court of Civil Appeals to enjoin the litigation, and the United States District Court dismissed the case. Donovan appealed the dismissal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Texas Court of Civil Appeals cited Donovan with contempt for violating the injunction with his appeal. After paying a fine and serving a jail sentence for contempt, Donovan moved to have his appeal dismissed because he was under duress and subject to further punishment. The district court granted the dismissal. The United States Supreme Court granted cert. to review the Texas Supreme Court’s decision ordering the Texas Court of Civil Appeals to enjoin the federal litigation.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

Dissent (Harlan, J.)

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