From 1971, Supreme Court Justice Douglas's Thoughts on DPD's Raid of Burns's Dallas Notes

Dallasnotes.jpg
That copy of Dallas Notes you see above was loaned to me yesterday by one Mike Rhyner, who, as it turns out, was a contributor to the late Stoney Burns's Buddy magazine way back when. Its pages are brittle; it falls apart when you just look at it. Contained within, on Page 3, is a story headlined: "Lee Park 5 Trial Postponed," referring to Rudy Murley, Wayne Easter, Mike Maloney, Jaime Glazier and, of course, Stoney Burns, all "accused of various anti-police activities stemming from the April 12 Lee Park Massacre and Skinny Dip Festival." Says the unsigned story, which fills a full page of the yellowed tabloid, their trial has been delayed "because of a massive judicial fuck-up."

Stoney.jpg
Stoney Burns
The rest of the issue is filled with stories about the war in Vietnam, Angela Davis's arrest and the bombing of a Houston public radio station's transmission tower. There are headlines that read, simply, "Pinkos," "The Wonderful World of Pigs" and "Draft." Houston native Gilbert Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers is on one page; ads for a Jefferson Airplane concert at TCU and the second Bloodrock record fill another. Ads for rolling papers and pot plants dot almost every page.

Dallas police and prosecutors tried, time and again, to put Burns's underground paper out of business. They said it was "obscene." Which is why Burns took cops and the district attorney to court: He asked "there be no arrest of plaintiff, nor seizure of his property on grounds of obscenity without a prior judicial determination of the obscene character of the material in question." Shortly after the issue you see here went to press, the case reached the United States Supreme Court, which couldn't be bothered, save for one lone dissenting voice.

Only Associate Justice William O. Douglas, who Time would later call "The Court's Uncompromising Libertarian," took Stoney's side. This, in part, is what he wrote in February 1971:
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Justice William Douglas
The two raids in this case were search-and-destroy missions in the Vietnamese sense of the phrase. In each case the police came at night. The first search warrant authorized a search and seizure of 'obscene articles and materials, to wit: pictures, photographs, drawings and obscene literature' concealed at a given address. The seizures included: two tons of a newspaper (Dallas Notes), one photograph enlarger, two portable typewriters, two electric typewriters, one camera, 'numerous obscene photographs,' and $5.43 in money.1 The second warrant was issued 16 days later, in response to a claim that marihuana was concealed on the premises. It authorized the officers 'to search for and seize the said narcotic drug and dangerous drug in accordance with the law in such cases provided.' Not finding any marihuana on the premises, the sergeant asked instructions from his lieutenant. He was told to seize pornographic literature and any equipment used to make it. He 'didn't know what to seize and what not to seize so (he) just took everything.' 'Everything' included a Polaroid camera, a Kodak Brownie, a Flocon camera, a Kodak lamp, a floating fixture lamp, a three-drawer desk containing printers' supplies, a drafting square, a drafting table, two drawing boards, a mailing tube, two telephones, a stapler, five cardboard boxes containing documents, one electric typewriter, and one typewriter desk. A poster of Mao Tsetung, credit cards, costume jewelry, cans of spices, a brown sweater, and a statute of a man and woman in an embrace were also seized. Thus the newspaper Dallas Notes, a bi-monthly, was effectively put out of business.

It would be difficult to find in our books a more lawless search-and-destroy raid, unless it be the one in Kremen v. United States, 353 U.S. 346, 77 S.Ct. 828, 1 L.Ed.2d 876. If this search-and-destroy technique can be employed against this Dallas newspaper, then it can be done to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Yakima Herald-Republic, the Sacramento Bee, and all the rest of our newspapers.
Stoney Burns -- born Brent Stein -- will be buried tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. at the Shearith Israel Cemetery on Dolphin Road, where I have no doubt my grandparents will welcome him generously.

Update: My father, turns out, was old friends with Brent Stein from their days together at Hillcrest, where the man who'd become known as Stoney Burns was a couple of grades ahead of Big Hersch. Dad says he saw Stoney not long ago, said he "looked great." Saturday night my dad sent me a scan of the '62 Hillcrest yearbook.
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17 comments
KenWachsberger
KenWachsberger

I’m an underground press veteran and now historian (www.voicesfromtheunderground.com) and am currently involved in a major project to digitize underground papers. Already on board are about 60 feminist and lesbian papers, 200 military underground papers, a growing list of campus, community, high school, gay, minority, prisoners’ rights, and other papers. I even have 4 papers that were published by the FBI to sow dissension in the Movement. However, I have no Dallas papers, but only because I haven’t connected yet with any folks who were involved in those papers. If you were or can connect me to anyone who was and want to learn more about this project, please write to me at ken@voicesfromtheunderground.com. I would like to include all of the papers that have been mentioned in this discussion. The originals of undergrounds are starting to crumble with age, and the younger generation has no idea they may be found in dark shelves of special collections libraries. My goals are to preserve the papers and make them accessible.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Living in Dallas during 60s & 70s was a great education and a foretelling of what some see as the Police State we live in today with the TSA and the Patriot Act .

I know the Drill Yes Officer No Officer .

But all these years down the road some of the best fun I have is with folks who once thought it was Okay to hassle the long hairs and now see their rights being rolled back due to air port searches Is to Point out " Well if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about."

RIP STONEY.

Indigena
Indigena

Unforgettable night at Stoney's about 1970. Everyone stoned. Led Zeppelin blasting on the stereo. Suddenly the cops are on the phone questioning Stoney about his groupie's runaway brother. Stoney is irate and cussing them out. I restrain my semi-straight girlfriend from jumping out the second story window. We leave as soon as respectable and are escorted to the nearest freeway entrance by four squad cars full of Dallas' finest.

chickenpants
chickenpants

Fucking DMN, can't read the obit. The bourgeoisie gets the last laugh on Stoney Burns

m'k
m'k

allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllrighty then..

Douglas Baker
Douglas Baker

Before he left to be Director of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Decherd Turner was Director of the Bridwell Library at Perkins School of Theology and made a home in the library for Notes From the Under Ground, The S. M. U. Off Campus Free Press/Dallas Notes/Iconoclast. He also sold Notes at the check out counter although asked by his Dean not to; and further loaned money to pay the printer which was paid back out of street sales and in addition to having Notes available to read had kept John Howard Griffin in the library when the Klan put out a contract on Griffin and Turner brought meals and change of clothing in his brief case for Griffin. When elements of the Dallas Police force raided the Notes office on Live Oak and hauled off even the wall paper and phones ripped out of the wall they also took--among the spices, a glass jar of marijuana seeds that my Mother had bought in Mexico and which Sarah Hughes ordered returned to the old seedy mansion that was the Notes office/residence. When one of the Dallas TV stations did a documentary on Marijuana, they could not find some one to go on record on TV for the affirmative. Brent did. Love that you posted this obit and an sad that he is gone but his spirit is still among us long as people are free to be themselves without hurting themselves or others.

Johnliam
Johnliam

I never met Stoney Burns, but I wish I had. This man had guts.

Sirens and Music
Sirens and Music

BloodRock 2

DOA:

I remember we were flying along, and hit something in the air

Robert
Robert

Ads for rolling papers and pot plants dot almost every page.

And winter coats handed down from your older cousins came with well used pot pipes in the pockets. Your cousins going to Lee Park to smoke pot was called mezzin around. And on and on.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Ah the good ol days when a Supreme Court justice understood the Constitution and expected the government to obey it. Seems so quaint these days.

claytonauger
claytonauger

These things should be officially archived somewhere in Dallas. Who remembers that former Texas AG Jim Mattox defended the Lee Park 5?

Brendan McNally
Brendan McNally

The first interview I ever tried to conduct as a would-be journalist was with Stoney Burns. I called him up and tried to get him to talk about the Lee Park Bust. He said, "could you hold on a moment?" Put he phone down and twenty minutes later he still hadn't come back. I busted my journalistic Cherry a long while later. It was all uphill from him. Vaya con Dios, Stoney, ya made me who I yam!

scottindallas
scottindallas

'cept with modern smoking ordinances, it's sharing brownies in Lee Park

eric
eric

i am pretty sure the Dallas Public Library downtown has an collection of Dallas Notes on microfilm in the periodicals section

Damn Hippie
Damn Hippie

Dallas Notes, Dallas News, Hooka Notes, Hooka, Iconoclast...I remember some of these but I don't remember the exact chronology on them.

jcompton
jcompton

Dallas NOTES from the Underground was founded by Doug Baker in the 60s at SMU. Doug hired Stoney. The name was shortened to Dallas NOTES. Stoney fired Doug, because Doug was "a lousy writer" (true). So Doug started Dallas News, which competed with Dallas NOTES and Hooka NOTES and HOOKA, but Doug had to change the name to The Iconoclast, because the Post Office couldn't tell the difference between Doug's rag and the Dallas Morning News. The Iconoclast competed with HOOKA, which we who produced it started when Stoney sold stocks in NOTES to the White Panthers of Fort Worth who published The Outlaw Times, and Dallas NOTES became HOOKA NOTES, then Hooka (The Humanitarian Order of Kosmic Awareness) then Stoney Published Lone Star Dispatch (LSD), and the Iconoclast continued competing against HOOKA.

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