Margaret Wambles (plaintiff), a white woman, lived in a primarily black neighborhood with her son, Richard Roe (plaintiff), as well as a black man to whom Wambles was not married. Cecil Coppage (defendant), a white man, claimed to be Roe’s father and was concerned with Roe’s living situation. Coppage called Officer L. T. Conn (defendant) at the Montgomery Police Department and asserted that Roe might be subject to neglect and should be removed from Wambles’s home. Conn inspected Wambles’s home and found the home to be relatively clean and stocked with sufficient food. Conn also found Roe to be in fairly good physical condition with no signs of abuse. Despite these findings, however, Conn received a pickup order and, approximately one hour later, returned to remove Roe from Wambles’s home. The order was based on an Alabama statute permitting the immediate removal of a child if the child’s welfare required such removal. The statute did not require exigent circumstances or notice and a hearing prior to removal. A hearing was held on the matter 38 days after Roe was removed. At the hearing, the Family Court of Montgomery County granted Coppage temporary custody of Roe. Wambles filed a petition for custody of Roe. The family court denied the petition. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals affirmed, and Wambles appealed.