A federal judge who last week upheld most of Alabama's immigration law benefited from organized crime in the state's domestic-relations courts, according to a lawsuit filed four years ago.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn held that key provisions in the Alabama immigration law are constitutional, making it the strictest such measure in the nation. But a 2007 federal lawsuit alleges that Blackburn was the beneficiary of unconstitutional actions by certain judges and lawyers in an Alabama divorce court. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that a hunting club in central Alabama was the focal point of an organized crime ring that fixed divorce cases in order to benefit Blackburn and other favored parties--and their lawyers.
A specially appointed federal judge from Georgia dismissed the lawsuit on technical grounds in March 2008. But U.S. District Judge B. Avant Edenfield found that a key argument in the lawsuit "obviously was not frivolous." And for the purposes of his ruling, Edenfield states, the court was required to find many of the alleged facts as true.
The lawsuit does not claim that Judge Blackburn was involved in the organized-crime ring or that she knew she was to benefit from its activities. But it does raise at least two thorny questions:
* What did Judge Blackburn know and when did she know it?
* Was Blackburn's ruling on Alabama's immigration law tainted by her own possible connections to organized crime?
This much seems clear: Now that the hunting club lawsuit has been resolved, Judge Blackburn is aware of serious allegations against the legal community in her home state. Under the ethics rules of the bar, Blackburn is required to report such misconduct to the proper tribunal for investigation. Has she fulfilled her ethical duty or has she remained silent in order to protect the lawyers and judges who helped her obtain a favorable divorce ruling?
Based on the silence of the mainstream media on the issue, it appears that Judge Blackburn chose the latter course.