50 Years Ago:
by Stephanie Perry
Civil Rights Law in
The year 1965 was no- table in civil rights his- tory. A peaceful voting rights march led by Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, turned violent
when state troopers attacked protestors with tear gas and night sticks. As
a result, President Lyndon B. Johnson
urged Congress to pass voting rights
legislation, and signed the Voting
Rights Act of 1965 into law in August.
This article, written by Norman B.
Ackley, first appeared in the July/August 1965 issue of the Washington State
Bar News. Ackley went on to become a
member of the Legislature representing Seattle and later a King County
Superior Court judge who worked for
reform in family courts.
The Practice of Law in Mississippi
by Norman B. Ackley
A number of Washington state lawyers
have been able to get away to Missis-
sippi recently to serve as volunteers
in civil rights law offices there for pe-
riods ranging from ten days to several
months. I recently returned from a two-
week tour of duty and on this admitted-
ly limited basis make the following re-
port, which covers the questions most
commonly asked me by other lawyers,
and a few personal observations:
Two weeks is really just long enough
to begin to get the feel of things. It
should be longer. But it was worthwhile.
It’s not like starting out a new practice.
You just go to work in one of the sev-
eral civil rights offices working for the
full-time lawyers who are already there.
They have plenty of files to hand you.
The volunteers don’t get paid a salary.
They may have part of their travel ex-
pense paid depending on need and avail-
ability. You are compensated by the feel-
ing that you have spent a little bit of your
life doing something important and that
you will be rubbing shoulders with some
dedicated people and top-notch lawyers.
You may expect to be called on to
defend civil rights workers on crimi-
nal charges (e.g., walking downtown in
“mixed groups” is a breach of the peace,
by Mississippi standards); interview
witnesses and take statements; do brief-