USA v. Montgomery County School District et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION re 27 Order on Motion to Intervene. Signed by Senior Judge Neal B. Biggers on 03/13/2018. (bds)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:67-CV-00020-NBB
MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD
OF EDUCATION, et al.
WALTER DORIS, et al.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:70-CV-00001-NBB
MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD
OF EDUCATION, et al.
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
See Jones v. Caddo Parish School Bd., 204 F.R.D. 97, 100 (W.D. La. 2001).
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 WinonaMontgomery 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
The Butts litigation was transferred to the Northern District on January 5, 2018. Four days later,
Movants filed the instant motion to intervene.
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;
See In re Volkswagen of Am., Inc., 545 F.3d 304, 315 (5th Cir. 2008).
(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 protect her
(4) the existing parties do not adequately represent the movant’s interest.
Ross v. Marshall, 426 F.3d 745, 753 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing Saldano v. Roach, 363 F.3d 545, 551
(5th Cir. 2004)). “[F]ailure to satisfy any one element precludes the applicant’s right to
intervene.” Id. (quoting Edwards v. City of Houston, 78 F.3d 983, 999 (5th Cir. 1996)).
In moving to intervene, Movants assert that “the sole reason [they] seek intervention is so
that this case may be consolidated with [the Butts litigation].” (Emphasis added). Movants
further unequivocally maintain that they “take no position with respect to the ongoing litigation
between Plaintiffs and Defendants in this case.” Movants repeatedly reference an alleged
potential “interplay” between the Butts litigation and the desegregation litigation. Movants
further opine that “it is certainly conceivable that the desegregation order will require
modification” at some point in the future. (Emphasis added). Additionally, Movants argue that,
at a “later date,” some unknown plaintiff may allege that the consolidation statute violates the
The court finds Movants’ asserted interests insufficient to warrant intervention as of
right. Intervention as of right requires a party to have a “direct, substantial, legally protectable
interest in the proceedings.” New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. United Gas Pipe Line Co. (NOPSI),
732 F.2d 452, 463 (5th Cir. 1984). Moreover, courts consistently have found interests “too
contingent, speculative, or remote from the subject of the case” to be insufficient to justify
intervention. Bear Ranch, LLC v. HeartBrand Beef, Inc., 286 F.R.D. 313, 316 (S.D. Tex. 2012);
see also Texas v. Dep’t of Energy, 754 F.2d 550 (5th Cir. 1985); NOPSI, 732 F.2d at 454-5;
Adams v. Consol. Wood Prods. Emp. Benefit Plan, 2011 WL 665821 (E.D. Tex. Feb. 14, 2011).
The interests being asserting by Movants are too speculative and remote from the subject
of the case, i.e. compliance with the desegregation order. At best, Movants assert hypothetical,
or future, interests in the desegregation litigation, which in no way satisfy the Movants’ burden
as they are not “direct, substantial” interests. Further, Movants fail to cite any authority in which
intervention was found appropriate in circumstances like the ones presented here. Moreover, the
court is not inclined to allow intervention where Movants admittedly take no position in the case
in which they seek to intervene and whose sole purpose is to consolidate two distinct,
Movants additionally request permissive intervention under Rule 24(b)(2) which
“permits[s] a . . . state governmental officer or agency to intervene if a party’s claim or defense is
based on  a statute or executive order administered by the officer or agency.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
24(b)(2)(A). The rule allows intervention only in an action “in which a party relies upon a
statute . . . administered by the officer or agency.” 7C Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. §1912 (3d ed.)
(emphasis added). In support, Movants argue that there is a potential “interplay” between the
statute at issue in the Butts litigation and the desegregation order in this case. Movants, however,
fail to point to any statute relied upon by any party in the instant action. Thus, the court finds
Movants’ request for permissive intervention to be without merit.
Based on the foregoing discussion, the court finds that the instant motion to intervene is
not well-taken and should be denied. A separate order in accord with this opinion shall issue this
This, the 13th day of March, 2018.
/s/ Neal Biggers
NEAL B. BIGGERS, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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