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Civil rights defender jailed for contempt of court

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Local // Bayou Town History
Photo by JR Gonzales


Front page of the Houston Chronicle from February 1, 1973.

Chronic File

John J. Herrera was a civil rights leader and lawyer. In late January 1973, he was briefly jailed for contempt of court after accusing County Criminal Court Judge Jimmie Duncan of acting as “an arm of the prosecution”.

Herrera represented a man accused of attacking officers who were responding to a domestic incident. The defendant claimed that the officers beat him on the way to the police station, but Duncan refused to admit such testimony at trial, saying it was irrelevant to the case. Herrera then made accusations that Duncan was in cahoots with prosecutors.

It was then that the judge ordered Herrera to be imprisoned for a few hours.

A motion to have the case removed from Duncan’s court was denied.

In other news, President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Richard Kleindienst to work on tougher gun control legislation after Sen. John C. Stennis, D-Miss., was shot down during a robbery.