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Collection Number: 04485

Collection Title: William Carroll Lassiter Papers, 1937-1988

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


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Size 60 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 17,000 items)
Abstract William Carroll Lassiter of Raleigh, N.C., was an attorney specializing in cases involving libel and the press, and, from 1938 to 1979, served as general counsel and chief lobbyist for the North Carolina Press Association. The collection includes William Carroll Lassiter's files relating chiefly to legal cases and to newspaper law; correspondence, notes, and other material relating to lobbying the North Carolina General Assembly; published materials; and other items. Case files contain court papers of many types concerning libel, privacy rights, enforcement of the North Carolina Open Meetings statute, access to public records, and judicial gag orders. Materials relating to Lassiter's service in World War II also are included.
Creator Lassiter, William Carroll, 1909-
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
Useable, but much material remains in original envelopes and folders.
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the William Carroll Lassiter Papers #4485, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from the School of Journalism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in July 1987, and from Willam C. Lassiter of Raleigh, N.C., in August 1987 and June and July 1989.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

William Carroll Lassiter was born in Smithfield, N.C., on 5 March 1909. His father, Thomas James Lassiter, was an editor and co-owner of the Smithfield Herald, half ownership of which upon his sudden death was actively retained by his widow, Rena Bingham Lassiter. William's mother was joined in the family business in 1934 by his younger brother, Thomas James Lassiter Jr., who eventually became primary owner (with William and his mother owning smaller percentages) of the paper, as well as its publisher and editor.

William Lassiter attended Smithfield public schools, and graduated from Duke University with an AB degree in 1930; he remained at the Duke to earn his law degree in 1933. In that same year, he commenced the practice of law in Raleigh, N.C., with Willis Smith and I.M. Bailey.

In 1938, Lassiter became general counsel and chief lobbyist to the state legislature for the North Carolina Press Association, of which his father and brother had, at various times, served as president. In his service as lobbyist, Lassiter was influential in fashioning North Carolina's open meeting law, while his reputation as a libel lawyer, his many published articles, and his outspokenness on issues regarding the First Amendment garnered him national recognition as the state's preeminent authority on newspaper law. Lassiter left lobbying in 1979, but continued to advise the North Carolina Press Association and its member newspapers on legal matters until 1984, even doing so in an unofficial capacity after that date.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection includes lawyer William Carroll Lassiter's files relating chiefly to legal cases and to newspaper law; correspondence, notes, and other material relating to lobbying the North Carolina General Assembly; published materials; and other items. Case files contain court papers of many types concerning libel, privacy rights, enforcement of the North Carolina Open Meetings statute, access to public records, and judicial gag orders. Materials relating to Willaim Carroll Lassiter's service in World War II also are included.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Legislative Material, 1948-1983.

About 4,000 items.

Arrangement: chronological, then by House or Senate proposal.

These materials consist largely of correspondence, business and financial records, notes and memoranda, and copies of the proposed bills and amendments with Lassiter's critiques thereof, derived from his lobbying in the North Carolina General Assembly for the North Carolina Press Association.

Box 1

1955-1969 #04485, Series: "1. Legislative Material, 1948-1983." Box 1

Box 2-4

Box 2

Box 3

Box 4

1971-1976 #04485, Series: "1. Legislative Material, 1948-1983." Box 2-4

Box 5-6

Box 5

Box 6

1977 #04485, Series: "1. Legislative Material, 1948-1983." Box 5-6

Box 7-8

Box 7

Box 8

1978-1979 #04485, Series: "1. Legislative Material, 1948-1983." Box 7-8

Box 9

Materials relating to open meetings statutes, circa 1971-1983 #04485, Series: "1. Legislative Material, 1948-1983." Box 9

Box 9a

Miscellaneous correspondence, 1948-1983 #04485, Series: "1. Legislative Material, 1948-1983." Box 9a

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985.

About 5,000 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

These materials are Lassiter's legal case files. The cases, which he either tried personally or on which he served as a consultant, reflect his longtime duty as counsel for the North Carolina Press Association and its member newspapers and his professional interest in First Amendment issues. The cases concern violations of the right of privacy; civil actions for libel; enforcement of the North Carolina Open Meetings statute; access to public records; and judicial gag orders, which Lassiter characterized as fair trial versus free press.

The files contain court papers of every type (e.g., complaints, pleadings, motions, orders, and judgments), court records, legal briefs and memoranda, petitions, and depositions. In the libel case files, the libelous newspaper column leading to the litigation is often exhibited; for otherwise newsworthy cases, pertinent news material can be found in most files. If the case spurred Lassiter to comment in his own column, "Law and Press," contributed to the Press Association's monthly The North Carolina Press , a typed draft may be filed. The correspondence, official and personal, derived in each case is included. The final box of files in this series contains miscellaneous material.

The year on each file is usually the date of the passing of final judgment on the case, whether in Superior, District, Appellate, or Supreme court (one case involving Lassiter reached the United States Supreme Court). Each file is designated below by its case title (which normally corresponds to that given to it by Lassiter on the outside of each file), and the files are then further arranged within each year alphabetically.

Box 10

Lanier versus Kinston Free Press Co., 1952 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Stanley versus the Smithfield Herald, and Stanley versus C.E. Bingham, 1952 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Taylor versus Kinston Free Press Co., 1952 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Long and others versus Statesville Daily Record, Inc., 1953 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Redwine versus Greenwood, Pou Bailey and Fourteen Newspaper Publishers, 1953 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Debnam versus Chapel Hill News Leader, 1957 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Hallman versus News and Observer Publishing Co., and Underwood versus News and Observer Publishing Co., 1957 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Hallman versus the Pilot, Inc., 1958 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Libel claim against Carteret Publishing Co. by Wheatley, 1959 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Nowell versus News and Observer Publishing Co., and Nowell versus Hamilton, Daniels and numerous others, 1960 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Whorton versus Pamlico Publishing Co., Inc., 1961 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Libel claim against Coastland Times by Cannady, 1962 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Payton versus Jones, 1962 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Cooper versus Asheville Citizen-Times Publishing Co., 1963 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

A.B.C. Johnson versus Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Co., 1963 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Knights of Columbus versus Timby and Bryan, 1963 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

McFarland, Holliday, Blanding, Brailsford, and Bannerman versus News and Observer Publishing Co., and #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Mcfarland, et al. versus Patton, 1963 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Harper versus Burlington Times-News Publishing Co., 1965 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Fayetteville Publishing Co. versus Cumberland County Hospital Authority, 1967 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 10

Box 11

United States Department of Labor versus Wilson Daily Times, Inc., and Dickerman, 1968 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Kinloch versus News and Observer Publishing Co., 1971 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Morris versus Gastonia Gazette, 1971 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Arthur versus Belk, 1972 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Durham Herald Co. versus City of Durham Board of Adjustment, 1972 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

High Point Enterprise, Inc. versus Bencini, 1972 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Lee versus Multi-Media, Inc., 1972 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

State of North Carolina versus Boney, 1972 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Green and Miller versus Hall and News and Observer Publishing Co., 1973 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Mecklenburg County versus Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 1973 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Greenville Publishing Co. versus Daily Reflector, Inc., et al, 1974 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Harper versus Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, 1974 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

News and Observer Publishing Co., et al versus Coble, North Carolina Secretary of Revnue, 1974 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Chatham News Publishing Co. versus Chatham County Board of Commissioners, 1975 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Leak versus High Point City Council, 1975 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Shinn, Vaughan and Bowers versus Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, 1975 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

State of North Carolina versus Furr, 1975 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

State of North Carolina versus Purdie, 1975 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Times-News Publishing Co. versus Walker, 1975 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Williams versus Bradley, 1975 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 11

Box 12

Coe versus Good and Elkin Tribune, Inc., 1976 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Sun Journal, Inc. versus City of New Bern Redevelopment Commission, (Gunkel versus Kimbrell, et al.), 1976 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

McCoy versus Sun Journal, Inc., 1976 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

News and Observer Publishing Co. versus Wake County Interim Board of Education, 1976 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Walters versus Sanford Herald, Inc., 1976 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Greensboro News Co. versus Guilford County Commissioners, 1977 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

League of Women Voters of Jackson County versus Jackson County Commissioners, 1977 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

News and Observer Publishing Co., et al. versus Interim Board of Education for Wake County, 1977 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

State of North Carolina versus Pritchard, 1977 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Daly versus Havelock Progress Publishing Co., and Wilson versus Havelock Progress Publishing Co., 1978 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Idol versus Carver, Trustees of Piedmont Technical Institute, Horton and Riley, 1978 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Knight Publishing Co. d/b/a Charlotte Observer, et al. versus Board of Medical Examiners of State of North Carolina, 1978 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Madison versus Holder, 1978 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Piedmont Publishing Co., et al. versus Tropman, North Carolina Commissioner of Banks, 1978 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

State of North Carolina versus Priscilla and Bernard Hopchas, 1978 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Student Bar Association Board of Governors versus University of North Carolina, 1978 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Weathers and Shelby Daily Star versus City of Shelby Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and its Members, 1978 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 12

Box 13

Bazemore versus Lewis ( Union News and Home), 1979 Brown versus Boney (Alamance News), 1979 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Caldwell versus Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., et al., 1980 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Hall versus Piedmont Publishing Co., 1980 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Advanced Publishing Inc. versus City of Elizabeth City, 1981 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Bright versus Bolden, 1981 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Courier-Times Inc. versus City of Roxboro, 1981 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Fayetteville Publishing Co. versus Griffin, 1981 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Goodman versus Knight Publishing Co., 1981 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Hopper versus Shelby Daily Star, 1981 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Martin versus Hickory Publishing Co., 1981 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 13

Box 14

Hudson versus New and Observer Publishing Co., 1982 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 14

News and Observer Publishing Co. versus Wake County Hospital System, Inc., 1982 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 14

Sun-Journal Inc. versus Craven County Hospital, 1982 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 14

Taylor versus Greensboro News Co., 1982 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 14

Durham Herald Co. versus Hillsborough Town Board, 1983 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 14

Renwick versus News and Observer Publishing Co., 1984 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 14

Reid versus Durham Herald Co., 1985 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 14

Box 15

Miscellaneous, 1953-1987 #04485, Series: "2. Litigation Material, 1952-1985." Box 15

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Published Material, 1958-1985.

About 1,500 items.

Case summaries from various published Reporters, an assortment of periodicals and books, and a residue of miscellaneous items. The case summaries reflect Lassiter's regard for the First Amendment; they cover cases involving libel, privacy, public records, open meetings, freedom of speech versus the right to a fair trial, and any others that would concern one who is a defender of the press. Noteworthy among the periodicals are complete sets of some volumes of the North Carolina Press Association's monthly, The North Carolina Press, in addition to a large amount of unorganized issues that might constitute more whole volumes. The books mostly address newspaper and media law, although a few general law texts are included, in addition to a set containing briefs of landmark constitutional cases.

Box 16-18

Box 16

Box 17

Box 18

The North Carolina Press #04485, Series: "3. Published Material, 1958-1985." Box 16-18

Box 18-19

Box 18

Box 19

Assorted periodicals #04485, Series: "3. Published Material, 1958-1985." Box 18-19

Box 20-26

Box 20

Box 21

Box 22

Box 23

Box 24

Box 25

Box 26

Case Summaries Extracted from Published Reporters #04485, Series: "3. Published Material, 1958-1985." Box 20-26

Box 26

Miscellaneous Loose Material #04485, Series: "3. Published Material, 1958-1985." Box 26

Box 27-29

Box 27

Box 28

Box 29

Books #04485, Series: "3. Published Material, 1958-1985." Box 27-29

Box 30

"Law and Press" articles, 1951-1986, with index prepared by Lassiter #04485, Series: "3. Published Material, 1958-1985." Box 30

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Additions after 1988.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087).

Information in quotation marks is from captions supplied by William Carroll Lassiter.

Box 31

Letters to his mother of William Carroll Lassiter while serving in the United States Navy during World War II, 1945. Also included are maps, photographs, and other items from this period. #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"Charges against Thomas E. Boney, editor and publisher of the Alamance News, of criminal trespass for going upon public school facilities and taking pictures during a racial disturbance at the school (October 1971)." #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"Opinions of William Carroll Lassiter, city attorney of the city of Raleigh, N.C. (1947-1951)," with an index and a report of accomplishments of the city attorney's office during this period. #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"Correspondence between William Carroll Lassiter and Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Walter Urbigket about alleged newly created word: conclusory." #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"Gag order entered in matter of North Carolina attorney general's investigation into corporate affairs of Southern Bell." #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"In the matter of Gary Martin, Kermit Hull, and Jay Hampton ( Gastonia Gazette reporters/ photographers)--contempt of court proceedings." #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"Miscellaneous matters relating to legal status of newspaper carriers handled by William Carroll Lassiter," including cases in 1937 and 1938. #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"North Carolina Open Meetings Law--solution to problems by letter to Public Board members from publisher." #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"Public access to public records--police investigative memoranda and reports." #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

"Files on various subjects of newspaper law, containing copies of letters to members of NCPA, memoranda, court decisions, and other materials." #04485, Subseries: "Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)." Box 31

An index, prepared by William Carroll Lassiter, follows.

32: A1-A20 #04485, Subseries Additions after 1988. Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)., Box 32
33: A21-C20 #04485, Subseries Additions after 1988. Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)., Box 33
34: C21-D15 #04485, Subseries Additions after 1988. Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)., Box 34
35: E1-F1a #04485, Subseries Additions after 1988. Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)., Box 35
36: F1b-J1 #04485, Subseries Additions after 1988. Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)., Box 36
37: K1-O2 #04485, Subseries Additions after 1988. Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)., Box 37
38: P1-X1 #04485, Subseries Additions after 1988. Addition of July 1989 (Acc. 89087)., Box 38
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of June 1989 (Acc. 89073).

Box 39

Open meetings law materials, 1953 #04485, Subseries: "Addition of June 1989 (Acc. 89073)." Box 39

Miscellaneous short writings (chiefly articles and speeches, 1939-1988).

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Processing Information

Processed by: David Weber, Roslyn Holdzkom, 1989

Encoded by: Eben Lehman, February 2007

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