Defence attorneys for six student civil rights demonstrators, including John W. Perdew '64, now being held in the Sumter County, Ga., jail, have taken the first legal steps in their attempt to secure a writ of habeas corpus from the Georgia Supreme Court.
C.B. King, a lawyer from Albany, Ga., said yesterday that he has filed a "brief of evidence" with Judge T.O. Marshall of the Sumter County Superior Court. There is little doubt, King said, that Judge Marshall will approve the brief, which is merely a statement of the evidence presented at the original commitment hearing of the students on Aug. 20.
Once this step is accomplished, King will then be able to file his petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court. In his initial appeal, which was rejected by the Superior Court last week, King claimed that insufficient evidence had been presented at the commitment hearing. The students are thus being denied their rights of free speech and free assembly, King argued.
Since a writ of habeas corpus is an "extraordinary writ," it takes precedence over all other business pending before the court. King said he did not share the optimistic view of some of his colleagues, who believe the Supreme Court "will give relief" to the students.
Lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, including associate counsel Constance Baker Motley, are helping with the case.
The six students have been in jail since their arrest during a protest march Aug. 8. Four of them--Perdew, Ralph Allen, Don Harris and Zev Aelony--have been charged with incitement to insurrection, a capital offense in Georgia. The other two, Thomas McDaniel and Sallie Mae Durham, are being held on lesser charges. All the students except Aelony, a member of CORE, are workers for the Student Non-Violent coordinating Committee.
If the petition for a writ is turned down by the Georgia Supreme Court, King said defense attorneys will appeal to the federal appellate court. The whole process of securing the writ is separate from the actual trial of the students.
They will face a hearing when the state grand jury reconvenes in November. If indicted, the students will stand trial in December.
The case, the first in which civil rights demonstrators have been charged with a capital offense, is beginning to attract substantial publicity after a long news black-out. Sen. Harrison Williams (D-N.J.) spoke on the Senate floor last week about the case, and the two senators from Colorado, Perdew's home, have demanded FBI investigations.
Jack Chatfield, a former SNCC worker from Trinity College has mailed a great deal of information to newspapers in the East, and several papers, such as the New York post, have sent reporters to Americus, Ga., the seat of Sumter County.
The Kirkland House Committee announced plans earlier this week to sponsor a fund drive to aid Perdew's defense. The Committee set a goal of $5000, and indicated it will attempt to get other colleges in the area to initiate campaigns.
In a letter to the CRIMSON Mary King, a SNCC field secretary in Atlanta, "strongly suggests" that any contributions be sent to SNCC, "ear-marked" for the defense of the students in Americus. She added that because of the persistent news black-out in the South SNCC will step-up its attempts to disseminate information on civil rights cases in the North