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United States v. Montgomery County Board of Education

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

March 14, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al. DEFENDANTS WALTER DORIS, et al. PLAINTIFFS
v.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NEAL B. BIGGERS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the court is a motion to intervene filed by several agents of the State of Mississippi (hereinafter “Movants”). Upon due consideration of the motion, responses, and applicable authority, the court is ready to rule.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The above-styled and numbered cause is a desegregation case which was commenced and closed years ago. In fact, the last action taken was the court's modification of the desegregation order in 2004. Although the desegregation order remains in full force and effect, there has been no activity in this litigation since the modification and “the only issue remaining before the court is continued compliance with the desegregation order.”[1]

         In a completely separate action (hereinafter “Butts litigation”), numerous individual plaintiffs and the Montgomery County School District, a defendant in the instant desegregation litigation, filed suit against Movants challenging the constitutionality of a statute passed by the Mississippi legislature. That statute administratively consolidates the Montgomery County and Winona Municipal school districts into a single school district to be designated the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District. The plaintiffs in the Butts litigation argue that the statute's selection process for the consolidated district's school board violates the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         The Butts litigation was originally filed in the Southern District of Mississippi. Movants, however, filed a motion to transfer venue on two grounds: (1) that the case should be consolidated with the instant desegregation litigation, and (2) that the “true nature of the litigation is local to the residents of Montgomery County, ” which resides in the Northern District. The Southern District court granted the motion to transfer on the second ground after finding that the Volkswagen factors favored a venue in the Northern District.[2] In its order, the court specifically found as follows:

Plaintiffs' suit does not implicate the [desegregation] Order's cause. It alleges deprivation of voting rights, not educational or employment rights. Plaintiffs challenge how school board members are selected, now how they perform their duties. The [desegregation] Order does not mention school board members, let alone the selection of those members.

         The Butts litigation was transferred to the Northern District on January 5, 2018. Four days later, Movants filed the instant motion to intervene.

         Analysis

         Movants first contend that they may intervene as of right under Rule 24(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Those seeking to intervene as of right must satisfy the following four elements:

(1) the motion to intervene is timely;
(2) the movant asserts an interest that is related to the property or transaction that forms the basis of the controversy in the case into which she seeks to intervene;
(3) disposition of the case may impair or impeded the movant's ability to ...

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