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General News    H3'ed 9/7/10

Who Really Is Acting With Racist Motives in Alabama?

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Message Roger Shuler

Cross Posted atLegal Schnauzer

The investigation and sanctioning of three white attorneys in the 1990s indicate the Alabama State Bar has been practicing racial politics in its handling of the recent Kenya Lavender Marshall case.

Marshall, who is black,had her law license suspended, and that caused her to be removed as the Democratic Party nominee for a Jefferson County judgeship. That led the Alabama Democratic Executive Committee (ADEC) toreplace Marshall with Elisabeth French, who is black, instead of Nicole Gordon Still, who is white and was runnerup to Marshall in the primary election.

James Laster, president of the Jefferson County chapter of the Alabama New South Coalition, reacted by saying Still was a victim of racism andcalling for French to step asideas a way of showing she does not support biased and racially charged decision-making. The Birmingham chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)seconded that sentimentyesterday.

ALegal Schnauzerinvestigation, however, indicates the New South Coalition and the SCLC are looking in the wrong place for racism. Our research on a case from the 1990s indicates it was the Alabama State Bar, not ADEC, that probably wasacting with race-based motives.

Marshall was charged with misappropriating about $30,000 in client funds. Perhaps the best known Alabama case involving similar allegations started with a bar complaint in 1994 against three Birmingham lawyers--Robert "Coach" Hayes, Robert Roden and Huell Carter.

How does the State Bar's handling of the Marshall case compare to that in the Hayes case, where all three accused lawyers were white? Marshall's punishment was much more severe. And her investigation was handled in a much more expeditious fashion. That strongly suggests that the Alabama State Bar went after Marshall with racist and poltical motives in mind.

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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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