Texas v. The NAACP
Two weeks after the excitement in Mansfield, the Texas government was fed up with the publicity the NAACP was bringing to the state. Governor Allan Shivers blamed the NAACP for the problems in Mansfield and Texas Attorney General John Ben Shepperd began investigating the Houston and Dallas branches of the organization. He gained a temporary restraining order, forcing all branches to cease operations. A case was formed against the organization on charges of barratry, or coercing plaintiffs for suits, and failure to pay the correct taxes as the state claimed they were a for-profit business.
A news script and corresponding video from the KXAS news station on September 14, 1956, show lawyers from the state attorney general’s office searching through records at the Dallas NAACP offices. Attorney General John Ben Sheppard acquired a temporary injunction against the organization while he launched an investigation on the terms of tax fraud and barratry. A corresponding court case was brought to Judge Otis T. Dunangan the following month.
In the weeks following the Mansfield Crisis, Texas Attorney General John Ben Shepperd was granted a temporary injunction against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People while state lawyers searched through the organization's records, looking for evidence of barratry and tax fraud.
Court convened for the 17th day of the trial between the state of Texas and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. State Attorney General John Ben Shepperd accused the organization of barratry while Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP said the state used intimidation and threats on black litigants to keep them from testifying.
Judge Otis T. Dunagan hears testimony from both the state of Texas and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Alabama Attorney General McDonald Gallion sat in on the proceedings to bring a similar suit against the NAACP in his state.
A state official served the Dallas branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People with legal papers restraining the organization from further operation until a trial is convened.
The case was taken to court in Tyler, Texas, in October, where prominent figures in the NAACP like Thurgood Marshall came to defend the organization. Marshall even went on to call the case "the greatest crisis" in the organization's history. The state sifted through more than 500 exhibits and 17 days’ worth of testimony, including a contract for $11,500 paid to Heman Sweatt. In the end, Dunagan continued with a temporary restraining order on the NAACP within the state. Not pleased with the outcome, Shepperd filed for a permanent injunction.
In Tyler, the initial highlight of the court fight was the disclosure of the NAACP contract to pay $11,500 to Heman Sweatt. District Judge Otis T. Dunagan granted a temporary restraining order/injunction against the NAACP after Attorney General Shepperd brought suit against the NAACP. Shepperd claimed that the NAACP was a corporation based in New York and did not have a permit to operate in Texas. He also argued that the NAACP was violating barratry laws. Thurgood Marshall, NAACP chief council, called this "the greatest crisis" in the organization's history.
Judge Dunagan issued a temporary injunction against further operation of the NAACP in Texas after a 17-day hearing, which included over a million words of testimony and more than 500 exhibits. The injunction remained in effect pending appeal.
State District Judge Otis T. Dunagan of Tyler started hearings Dec. 3 on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to hold the next trial of the state's ouster suit (State of Texas v. NAACP). The NAACP dropped its appeal to the Texas Court of Civil Appeals at Texarkana to concentrate a harder fight against making Judge Dunagan's order permanent. NAACP attorneys contend that Dallas or Austin would be a more neutral spot for the trial. If Judge Dunagan will not move the trial, the NAACP urged a prompt trial on the permanent injunction.
At Tyler, State District Judge Dunagan delayed until January or later his decision on the NAACP's request to have the state's ouster suit (State of Texas v. NAACP) tried at Dallas or Austin. "The NAACP does not volunteer legal aid to anyone unless aid is requested," said Thurgood Marshall. "Such aid is not extended to persons violating the order of the nation's Supreme Court."
Written arguments were filed in the dispute over whether the trial of the state's suit for permanent injunction against the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would be held at Tyler or moved to another Texas city. State District Judge Otis T. Dunagan was expected to decide this question early in February. The removal was sought by the NAACP. Judge Dunagan earlier entered a temporary injunction against further operation of the organization in Texas.
State District Judge Otis T. Dunagan at Tyler said his decision on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's motion to move the trial of the state's ouster suit from Tyler to Dallas or Austin would come in March. The organization is currently under a temporary Injunction against operation in the state.
Dist. Judge Otis T. Dunagan rejected NAACP's motion to move the trial from Tyler to Dallas or Austin and set a trial for April 15 on the state's request for permanent injunction against the NAACP. At the request of former Attorney General John Ben Shepperd, the organization has been under a temporary injunction since Sept. 21, 1956. The state said the NAACP violated Texas law by making money on a non-profit charter as well as soliciting litigation on integration suits.
At Tyler, trial began April 29 in the state's effort to get a permanent injunction against the NAACP. A temporary injunction was granted last September by District Judge Otis T. Dunagan. The case originally was set for April 22. Delay was sought by both sides. The court was told that the State Bar of Texas might intervene in the case of alleged barratry by NAACP attorneys in filing integration lawsuits.
State District Judge Otis T. Dunagan of Tyler issued an order permanently enjoining the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from certain acts, but he did not require the group to stop operating in Texas as requested in a lawsuit filed by former Attorney General John Ben Shepperd. NAACP attorney W.J. Durham said after Judge Dunagan's decision: "Officers and committee members of the Texas conference [NAACPJ are not seriously aggrieved by the judgment of the Tyler court. They feel they are not enjoined from any act they could have done lawfully under our charter before the Tyler suit."
The NAACP posted a $5,000 bond with the district clerk as Judge Otis T . Dunagan filed his "findings of fact and conclusion of law." The two steps were needed before the NAACP appealed to the State Court of Civil Appeals at Texarkana. Further appeal could be made to the state supreme court and then to U. S. Supreme Court. The NAACP requested a 30-day extension to file exceptions to Judge Dunagan's findings. The NAACP is now free to carry out its purpose as it did before last Sept. 19, 1956.
Hearings began in December for the permanent injunction. During this time, Will Wilson was elected the Texas Attorney General and replaced Shepperd in the fight. The NAACP requested a change of venue but it was denied. The trial officially began April 29, 1957, and the state once more laid out once more charges of tax evasion and barratry. In May, Dunagan reached a decision and placed a permanent injunction on certain parts of the NAACP. He said the organization was barred from engaging in the practice of law or financing a suit in which they have no direct interest; engaging in political activities or in lobbying activities contrary to state law; soliciting lawsuits, either directly or indirectly; or hiring or paying any litigant to bring, maintain or prosecute a law suit. The NAACP counsel seemed content with this ruling. NAACP lawyer W.J. Durham later said, “Officers and committee members of the Texas conference are not seriously aggrieved by the judgment of the Tyler court. They feel they are not enjoined from any act they could have done lawfully under our charter before the Tyler suit.”
The NAACP in Texas lived to fight another day.
NAACP executive secretary Roy Wilson spoke to the Board of Directors at their annual meeting in January of 1957. The following transcript of that meeting in the NAACP Papers shows him discussing litigation against the NAACP in Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas, saying it is a violation of civil liberties. At this time, the Texas v. NAACP case in Tyler was at a standstill as Judge Otis T. Dunagan delayed the trial until April. The NAACP in Texas wasn't the only facet of the organization under fire from state governments.
The Board of Directors discussed the possibility of filing an appeal in the State of Texas v. NAACP case. Judge Otis T. Dunagan placed a less severe injunction on the organization following a trial in April but allowed it to continue operation in the state. The NAACP eventually withdrew the request for appeal.
Clarence Laws informed the NAACP Board of Directors that twelve chapters have 50 or more members. He also discussed problems within leadership of certain chapters. Texas chapters made a comeback in the years following efforts of the Texas attorney general to enjoin the organization from operating in the state.
NAACP Secretary Roy Wilson attempted to persuade the Board of Directors not to file an appeal after Judge Otis T. Dunangan placed a permanent injunction on the organization in the State of Texas v. NAACP case. Despite the injunction, the NAACP was still allowed to operate within the state. The board went against Wilson's request and filed an appeal with the Tyler courts. However, it was withdrawn the following February.
 “NAACP Ouster Trial, College Integration Mark Texas Month,” Southern School News, 3. no. 4 (1956): 14. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15138coll22/id/532/rec/3.
 “Texas Girds for Lawsuits on School, NAACP Activity; Month Called Quiet,” Southern School News, 3. no. 6 (1956): 11. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15138coll22/id/566/rec/3.
 “Texas Legislators Pass Pupil Assignment Law,” Southern School News, 3. no. 12 (1957): 2. Accessed April 20, 2015. http://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15138coll22/id/668/rec/3.