March 29, 1971: Los Angeles jury recommends death penalty for Charles Manson and 3 female followers
Charles Manson was the self-proclaimed leader of the "Manson Family," a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the Tate-LaBianca murders, in which members of the group carried out his instructions. Through the joint-responsibility rule of conspiracy, he was convicted of the murders themselves. Manson's death sentence was automatically reduced to life imprisonment when a decision by the California Supreme Court temporarily eliminated the state's death penalty. California's eventual reestablishment of capital punishment did not affect Manson, who is a current inmate at Corcoran State Prison.
March 28, 1978: Supreme Court issues decision in Stump v. Sparkman
Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978), is the leading Supreme Court decision on judicial immunity. The case involved an Indiana judge sued by a young woman whom he had ordered to be sterilized. In 1971, Judge Stump granted a mother's petition to have a tubal ligation performed on her 15-year-old daughter, whom the mother alleged was ''somewhat retarded.'' The judge did not hold a hearing to receive evidence or appoint a lawyer to protect the daughter's interests. The petition was granted the same day that it was filed. When the daughter underwent the surgery a week later she was told she was having her appendix removed.
The daughter married two years later. When she did not become pregnant, she was told that she had been sterilized during the 1971 operation. The daughter and her husband sued the judge and others associated with the sterilization in federal district court.
The district court found that the judge was immune from suit. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, holding that the judge had lost his immunity because he failed to observe ''elementary principles of due process'' when he ordered the sterilization. Finally, in 1978, the Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, reversed the Court of Appeals, announcing a test for judicial immunity. The court held that a judge is immune from liability for his judicial acts even if his exercise of authority is flawed by the commission of grave procedural errors.
March 27, 1834: Senate censures President Jackson over U.S. National Bank
President Jackson opposed renewal of the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. This privately owned bank had a government charter to regulate the flow of currency, control credit and perform essential banking services for the Treasury Department. The existence of the bank was based on the idea of Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury secretary, that cooperation between commercial interests and the government would assure a strong national economy. Jackson opposed the national bank concept because he contended it had a powerful voice in national affairs yet was not responsive to the will of the people.
Jackson succeeded in destroying the bank by vetoing its 1832 re-charter by Congress and by withdrawing U.S. funds in 1833. The Senate censured Jackson on March 28, 1834, for his action in removing U.S. funds from the Bank of the United States. The censure was later expunged.
March 26, 1999: Jack Kevorkian charged with second-degree murder for administering lethal injection to terminally ill man
Dr. Jack Kevorkian is a controversial American physician known for championing a terminal patient's right to die via physician-assisted suicide. He claims to have assisted 130 patients in dying.
In 1998, Kevorkian courted legal action against himself by daring authorities to prosecute him. In November 1998, CBS aired a videotape that showed Kevorkian giving a man several injections of lethal medication. The tape also showed the man dying from the injections. In his trial for murder in early 1999, Kevorkian represented himself and dared the jury to convict him and be "judged by history." The jury convicted him of second-degree murder and delivery of a controlled substance. Kevorkian was sentenced to 10–25 years' imprisonment. Between 1999 and 2007, Kevorkian served eight years of his sentence. He was released on parole June 1, 2007 for good behavior.
March 25, 1965: Civil rights activists led by Martin Luther King Jr. successfully complete 4-day, 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.
The Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights ended three weeks that represented a political and emotional peak of the civil rights movement. On "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights marchers moved east on U.S. Route 80 from Selma. They marched six blocks to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where state and local officers attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas and drove them back into Selma.
Two days later, Martin Luther King Jr. led a ''symbolic'' march to the bridge but was prevented by court order from marching further. The successful march finally occurred March 21–25. At the end of the march, on the steps of the state capitol building, King delivered a speech that has become known as ''How Long, Not Long.''