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Kent Spriggs Papers

 Collection — Container: unprocessed
Identifier: MSS 2004-04

Scope and Contents

Consists of Kent Spriggs' case files related to the 1973 retrial of Dave Keaton and Johnny Frederick of the Quincy Five and those related to Keaton et al. v. Townsend, a civil case brought by the Quincy Five against the State of Florida and Joe Townsend for the coerced testimony that implicated the men in the case. Included in these files are correspondence with Alfonse Figgers, Dave Keaton, David Charles Smith, Johnny Frederick, and Johnny Burns who were collectively known as the Quincy Five.

Also contains files related to Clifford N. Steele, et al. v. Board of Public Instruction of Leon County, Florida, et al., including correspondence, newspaper clippings and trial notes and briefs.

Online Copies Available

Select materials from the Spriggs Papers have been digitized and are available through the FSU Digital Library.


  • Created: 1963-1976
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1971-1976

Conditions Governing Access

This collection contains restricted materials. Access will be reviewed upon request by curators, screening for confidential or sensitive information. Contact for more information about access to these materials.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

The P. Kent Spriggs Papers contain material related to two early civil rights cases prosecuted by Spriggs: the Quincy Five case and Steele et al. v. Leon County Board of Public Instruction. Spriggs graduated from New York University School of Law in 1965 and practiced law for more than thirty-seven years. He established Spriggs Law Firm in Tallahassee, Florida in 1971 and focused on civil rights related cases.

On September 18, 1970 Luke's Grocery, a small store and tackle shop on Lake Bradford Road in Tallahassee, Florida was held up. During the robbery two jailers from the Leon County jail, Khomas Revels and Hallie Carroll entered the store. Revels and Carroll attempted to disrupt the robbers, but a struggle ensued and both were shot in the scuffle. Carroll survived the shooting, Revels was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. The gunmen, however, escaped.

By January 1971, six men were arrested and charged with the robbery/murder. The six included Alfonse Figgers, Johnny Frederik, Dave Keaton, David Charles Smith, Johnny Burns and John Allen Britt. However, Britt later proved to have an out-of-state alibi. The remaining five became know as the Quincy Five because they all resided in Quincy, Florida. On January 28, 1971 all five men were indicted for murder based on what would prove to be coerced confessions, despite lack of physical evidence.

Keaton and Fredericks were tried together in May of 1971. Both were found guilty. Keaton received a death sentence and Fredrick a recommendation of mercy.

Meanwhile, on a tip from an informant, three Jacksonville men were implicated in the robbery/murder. On further investigation, it was discovered that the fingerprints of these three matched fingerprints at the scene. These three men became known as the Jacksonville Three. However, charges were not dropped against the Quincy Five.

Shortly after the conviction of the Jacksonville Three, the State Attorney decided not to prosecute Figgers and in May of 1972, Smith was found not guilty. With the help of Kent Sprigg, and others, Keaton and Frederick gained a retrial in 1973. In the end, all of the Quincy Five were found not guilty of the robbery/murder. However some remained in jail for other offenses.

Steele et al. v. Leon County Board of Public Instruction was first brought forth in 1962 by Reverend C. K. Steele and several other black families concerned with the unconstitutional apportionment of Leon County Schools. They argued that Leon County had a segregated school system and that the Board of Public Instruction was not proceeding "with all deliberate speed" to desegregate the county school system. However, the courts continued to rule that Leon County had a fair system of apportionment and that the schools were within constitutional limits.

The backers of the case did not see much headway in the case until 1970 when United States District Court of the Northern District of Florida ordered the Leon County Board of Public Instruction to desegregate. In April 24, 1973 the school board adopted another assignment plan to improve on the one created as a result of the 1970 ruling. However, the board rescinded the new plan and continued to use the one created in 1970.

As a result, the backers of Steele v. Leon County Board of Public Instruction brought suit this time, with the help of Kent Spriggs, and pressed for a full unitary school system.

The court ruled that the original plan was well within the bounds of the law and that Leon County Schools were more racially balanced that they had been in 1970. The case was dismissed.


3 boxes

Language of Materials


Method of Acquisition

Gift of P. Kent Spriggs.

Related Publications

Kent Spriggs. (1998). Representing Plaintiffs in Title VII Actions. New York: Aspen Publishers.

Kent Spriggs. (2017). Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers: Reflections From the Deep South, 1964-1980. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

Spriggs Law Firm (website).

Processing Information

The collection was processed from September to November 2004 by Chad Underwood.

Kent Spriggs Papers
Chad Underwood
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US