Interview with Judge Charles Clark


Judge Charles Clark:

The Meredith case, of course came to me individually by an attorney general whose first assistant and regular litigator had become ill and was unable to carry the full trial burden of a case. There'd been a lawsuit filed against the state. The attorney general employed me to present this case to the courts. The allegation by Meredith was that the University had adopted and had applied to him a policy of exclusion on racial grounds. The Position taken by the members of the board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning, by the Chancellor of the University and by the Registrar of the University was that this man had been denied admittance because he was not qualified. Not because they had adopted any policy, and the, the concept that I think uh is significant is that even Mississippi, even Mississippians are not monolithic in their views. Uh, the members of the board of trustees had a range of views on racial problems that was the product certainly of their environment and their background and their own basic views of things. But there was no established policy, there never had uh been a policy adopted and then applied to James Meredith. But basically uh, what I would want you to know is that the litigation process is not one that should be viewed as uh right or wrong. The process has established procedures, due process if you will, which says that the person that asserts that a fact is true normally has the burden of proving the truth of that fact. When Meredith asserted that the board of trustees had adopted a policy and that the registrar had applied that policy to him to exclude him on racial grounds. As a litigator it was my concern that Meredith had the burden of proving the truth of that assertion. Meredith did undertake to do that. He examined the various members of the board of trustees. They all denied that they had ever even discussed the adoption of such a policy and they denied that they had applied that policy to him to exclude him.