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Why Did Someone Gun Down This Lawyer?

By       Message Roger Shuler     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 8/17/11

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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

An Alabama lawyer was embroiled in his own contentious divorce case at the time he was murdered three weeks ago.

Robert Blake Lazenby (photo, above), in fact, was involved in several hot-button legal cases when he died from multiple gunshot wounds. Did one of those cases contribute to his death?  A review of public documents indicates the answer probably is yes.

The divorce case jumps out because records hint that at least two state judges were ruling in a biased fashion, favoring a lawyer over his wife--and multiple other lawyers had to know about it. That raises this question: Did our state's corrupt legal cartel finally push the wrong person too far, leading to the violent death of a party in a lawsuit? We would not be surprised if the answer is yes.

If our guess is on target, which case might have sparked deadly emotions? That remains unclear, but this much seems clear: Someone was very unhappy with Blake Lazenby--and Lazenby's life was not nearly as tidy as his legal colleagues would have you believe.

Lazenby, 54, was a partner in Thornton, Carpenter, O'Brien, Lazenby and Lawrence, one of the most prestigious firms in Talladega. A Web search indicates its a general-practice firm, with a focus on Real Estate, Probate, Trusts and Estates, Corporate, Banking, Municipal Law, Personal Injury, Insurance Law, Workers Compensation, Family Law, Employment Law, Medical Malpractice Defense, and Products Liability.

prominent figure on the statewide legal scene, Lazenby had been a member of the Alabama State Bar's Board of Bar Commissioners in the 1990s. He joined the bar's disciplinary commission in 2000 and served as its chairman in 2003.

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The Lazenbys had one child, a daughter named Madeline, and it appears that custody was not a major issue in divorce case. Blake Lazenby's obituary lists his mother and daughter as survivors, with no mention of his wife--even though the divorce was not final.

The Lazenby murder case began to unfold on July 27 when law-enforcement officials discovered a burning vehicle in Tarrant, a working-class suburb of Birmingham. Tarrant authorities ran a check on the vehicle's license number and then contacted the police department in Sylacauga, where Lazenby lived. Officers went to Lazenby's home and found his body in the dining room. From the Talladega Daily Home:

Talladega County Coroner Shaddix Murphy said he received a call around 11:15 p.m. (on July 27). He arrived at the scene and pronounced Lazenby dead at approximately 11:45 p.m.

Murphy said multiple gunshot wounds appeared to be the cause of death. He also said it appeared the weapon used was a handgun, which was not found at the scene. . . .

Lazenby was reportedly last seen dropping off friends in Alexander City around 4 p.m., and then at a gas station on Alabama 21 in Sylacauga around 5:30 p.m.

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Murphy said they found Lazenby in his dining room, wearing a suit and tie. No one else was home when he was found.

The Talladega newspaper reported six days ago that an investigation is ongoing and no new details have been released.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)

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