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Armand Derfner legal papers

 Collection
Identifier: AMN 1049

Scope and Contents

The Armand Derfner Papers document the professional work of Armand Derfner since he established legal practice in South Carolina in 1974. The papers are organized according to legal cases.

The bulk of the material concerns civil rights issues argues by Derfner at various South Carolina courts. Over 70 court cases are documented, with issues discussed relating mainly to racial discrimination, school desegregation, voting rights, employment rights, free speech, and property rights. Many cases are class-action suits regarding various aspects of voting and politics in South Carolina. Particularly well-documented are cases challenging the local and federal governments to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in order to address the dilution of African-American voting power, as well as issues of racial discrimination and inequality in election procedures. Also documented are Derfner’s efforts to make attorney’s fees available to prevailing parties in civil rights cases, which resulted in the Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Awards Act of 1976.

Cases are documented to varying extents. The most complete include official legal proceedings, such as depositions, briefs, exhibits, expert witness files, and court orders; case-related research, such as statistics and statistical analysis, scholarly articles, and organizational meeting minutes, also forms the most complete documentation. The collection includes videotapes regarding the case of the Charleston Five, the Charleston International Longshoremen’s Association members alleged to have incited a riot against police in January 2000, which resulted in an out-of-court settlement.

Dates

  • 1973-1995

Creator

Biographical / Historical

Armand Derfner, born in Paris on June 12, 1938, is a renowned civil rights attorney in the United States. Raised in New York, he received his bachelor’s from Princeton in 1960 and law degree from Yale in 1963. He clerked for a Chief Judge in the Court of Appeals and then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked at a prestigious law firm. At the height of the civil rights movement, Derfner moved to Mississippi to work as a civil rights attorney. In 1974, he moved to Charleston, SC, where he established a practice in which his main focus has been to argue cases relating to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He has successfully argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and, in 2002, was awarded the Trial Lawyers of the Year Award by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. In Charleston, he is mostly known for his work outlawing at-large elections in local governments. Also a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Derfner has testified before Congress several times.

Extent

186 boxes

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Armand Derfner, b. 1938, has been a litigator in private practice in Charleston, S.C. since 1974. He has litigated civil rights cases since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 went into effect in August 1968, when Derfner represented voters in Greenwood, Mississippi. He has gained national renown as a civil rights attorney, having won five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Armand Derfner Legal Papers document his work since establishing his practice in Charleston in 1974. The papers are organized according to legal cases, and the papers document over 70 cases. The bulk of the material concerns civil rights issues and cases argued by Derfner at various South Carolina courts. The cases mostly concern issues of racial discrimination, school desegregation, voting rights, employment rights, free speech, and property rights.

Title
Armand Derfner Legal Papers
Author
Sarah Berry
Date
April 2020
Description rules
DACS
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture Repository

Contact:
125 Bull Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424 United States
843-953-7608