Law School Discussion

Minority Legal Issues

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2005, 08:33:03 PM »
Yeah, you gotta figure as a Supreme Court Justice, you get one shot to get it right on a case with huge policy implications like that.  I'm glad Powell realizes he f*cked up, but that doesn't take away the fact that he had a chance to do something that could have had an impact and passed.  If Thomas had been on the bench at that time he would have been right there co-signin!

Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2005, 05:57:38 PM »
New Orleans D.A. target of race bias suit
Date: Thursday, March 10, 2005
By: Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS - In a city where power-sharing between blacks and whites is still a work in progress, New Orleans' first black district attorney has been hauled into court by 44 whites who say they were illegally fired en masse and replaced with blacks when he took office.

The racial discrimination trial opened in federal court this week, with the white former employees seeking back pay and unspecified damages for emotional distress in a lawsuit against Eddie Jordan, the flashy New Orleans prosecutor who in 2000 put Edwin Edwards, Louisiana's high-rolling former governor, behind bars.

"While it may be OK for a new district attorney or sheriff to come up and clean house, you can't clean house with all of one race," Clement Donelon, a lawyer for the fired whites, said Tuesday. "You can't fire all the white people to hire your friends, and other black people."

Jordan has said that he had the right to choose his staff and that the firings were done for reasons of racial balance.

"This is not discrimination; this is a political effort to create diversity," his lawyer Philip Schuler told the jury of eight whites and two blacks. The lawyer noted that in New Orleans the workforce is overwhelmingly black - nearly 70 percent - and that Jordan merely wanted "a workforce more reflective of the community."

As the U.S. attorney here in the 1990s, Jordan was the man in the trademark homburg who matched wits with Edwards, the wisecracking governor who dominated Louisiana politics for nearly three decades before he went to prison for graft.

Jordan then got elected district attorney, succeeding a retiring Harry Connick, himself another colorful New Orleans politico and the piano-playing father of jazz musician Harry Connick Jr.

The black prosecutor won office in a city where blacks have slowly gained the top political jobs over the past quarter-century. The mayor is black, and so is the sheriff. But voting still breaks down along racial lines, with most blacks shunning candidates supported by whites, who constitute around 30 percent of the population.

Eight days after taking office in 2003, Jordan fired 56 Connick holdovers - all non-lawyers, such as investigators, clerks and administrative employees, and all but three of them white. Over the next six months, Jordan went on to hire 69 people, 64 of them black. Eighteen of the replacements had worked on his campaign.

Among the non-lawyers, the number of blacks nearly tripled, while the number of whites in the office declined by about two-thirds. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in a preliminary determination, found evidence of racial bias.

Veterans with years of experience in law enforcement were replaced by younger blacks, some of whom had never done police work before.

"Lot of depression. Lot of self-confidence loss," said George Vogt, an investigator in his 60s who said he had heart problems after his firing. He said he sent out 100 resumes before finding a job.

Another white man fired by Jordan testified that he was one of the rare fingerprint and ballistics experts in the district attorney's office. The resume of the young man who replaced him was projected onto a courtroom screen, and it showed he had little experience other than being a lifeguard and doing some office work at a law firm.

Arthur Perrot, a fired white investigator, had a perfect 24-out-of-24 score when interviewed by Jordan's transition team, but was fired, while a black investigator who scored 16 out of 24 was retained.

But Jordan's lawyer asked: "If Eddie Jordan is racist, how is it that Eddie Jordan retained 57 white assistant district attorneys? These were his key positions."


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Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2005, 06:07:59 PM »
Wow Reign, great find. It'll be interesting to see the outcome.

Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2005, 09:52:37 AM »
Commentary: Why is Tyrone Williams the Only One Facing Death in Texas Smuggling Case?

Disgust slowly became rage as I listened to the National Public Radio report last week about Tyrone Williams, on trial for driving a tractor-trailer truck full of smuggled Mexicans illegals through Texas in 2003. Some 74 people were crammed into the 53-foot truck, some stacked on others like slaves packed onto a ship.

Nineteen people, including a five-year-old boy, suffocated and died. Williams is one of those being charged with their deaths. If convicted, heíll be sentenced to die.

I know Iíve seen something on an episode of ďLaw and OrderĒ like this. This time, sadly, it wasnít pretend.

The more I listened, the more a sinking feeling began to settle in my stomach. I donít hear about many white guys whose mommas named them Tyrone. I began to wonder if Williams was black.

He is. In fact, Williams is a Jamaican immigrant.

The NPR report raised his race because there is evidently some concern about why a low-level driver is on trial for his life in this smuggling case, while the ones who planned it, actually packed the people in and stood to profit from it arenít being charged with a capital crime. Some are wondering if Williams is facing the death penalty because he is black.

This is one of the things about this case, apart from the crime itself, that disturbs me. We know that black men have been subjected to capital punishment disproportionately in the United States. According to a recent Department of Justice report, 42 percent of the 3,374 persons who were in the federal prison system and on death row in 2003 were black.

Only 13 percent of the U.S. population is black.

So yes, the fact that one more brother may be facing government execution really bothers me, especially since Williams wasnít the brains behind the operation. But something else bothers me, too.

Why would Williams knowingly get involved with human smuggling? Of all the criminal actions he could have chosen to make some quick ends, why that one?

 I know everyone has his price Ė Williamsí was about $7,500 Ė but Iíd like to think that our history would keep us from doing certain things.

Smuggling people, even if they are ostensibly willing participants as many illegal immigrants are, still smacks of slavery because it reduces human beings to chattel.

The Mexicans in that tractor-trailer may have thought they were on their way to new and more prosperous lives in the States. Or maybe they thought that they were at least going to find one of those jobs that we Americans donít want to do anymore, so they could send much-need funds back to their families.

Some of them may have lucked up, but far too often illegals get brutally exploited by employers who could care less about their basic needs or deep-felt aspirations. Life in the U.S. already grinds up many of us who are citizens and legal immigrants. Lord have mercy on those who arenít.

So Iíd like to think that Williams would have chosen another way, if only because as a black man and a native of Jamaica, he should have smelled the stench of evil that smuggling gives off.

But I guess I should know better. Black folks exploit each other every day, using drugs, sex, money and violence or the threat of violence.

It seems we fail to see that the crack pipe is just the modern version of the slaverís shackles. We donít see that there is little difference between putting on colors and terrorizing each other in gangs, and what the Ku Klux Klan and night riders used to do to our ancestors. The men who are pimping our women and turning out our children donít see that they are no different from the slave masters who would creep into the slave cabins to satisfy their lusts.

What Williams and his bosses did is what humans beings have been doing to each other for centuries, often without regard for family connections or history. He definitely should be punished for his role in this crime. But the justice system is wrong for not seeing that of all the people involved, Williams is the one least culpable. He should not be on trial for his life.

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2005, 11:15:39 AM »
sounds like they better calllllllllll Tyroooooooooone


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Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2005, 11:22:18 AM »
That's some heavy stuff.  And to be honest, exactly why I am against the death penalty. 

Burning Sands, Esq.

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Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2005, 11:31:25 AM »
yeah, the sh!t is not being distributed evenly among convicts. The Baldus study clearly showed that.

Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2005, 09:43:11 AM »
Here's an update to that Williams' case that I posted earlier...

Williams Convicted, but Spared Death, for Smuggling Immigrants
Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2005
By: Juan A. Lozano, Associated Press

HOUSTON -- A truck driver was convicted Wednesday for his role in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants who clawed at the walls of his sweltering tractor-trailer and screamed for air as he smuggled them across Texas.

The 2003 journey was the deadliest human smuggling attempt in U.S. history.

Tyrone Williams, 34, was found guilty on 38 counts of transporting illegal immigrants but was spared the death penalty because the jury could not agree on whether he bore direct responsibility for the deaths.

The judge also declared a mistrial on 20 counts of conspiracy and harboring after the jury deadlocked on those charges during 2 1/2 days of deliberations. One of those charges also carried the death penalty.

Williams, who smiled when he learned he would not face the death penalty, could get life in prison.

Prosecutors said during the nine-day trial that Williams was paid $7,500 by a smuggling ring to transport more than 70 illegal immigrants from Harlingen to Houston in May 2003. The refrigeration unit on Williams' trailer was not turned on for the trip, and authorities said temperatures inside reached 173 degrees.

Survivors testified that as the heat in the trailer became unbearable, the immigrants took off their sweat-drenched clothes and crowded around holes they punched in the truck so they could breathe. They also kicked out a signal light to try to get the attention of passing motorists.

Prosecutors said Williams ignored the immigrants' screams and their banging on the sides of the truck, and even called the operators of the smuggling ring on his cell phone to demand more money because he feared they would damage his rig.

Williams eventually abandoned the trailer about 100 miles southwest of Houston after opening the doors and finding some of the immigrants lying in the trailer. He was arrested a few hours later at a Houston hospital.

Seventeen people, including a 5-year-old boy, died inside the trailer of dehydration, overheating and suffocation. Two others died later.

Authorities who found the trailer at the truck stop described seeing piles of half-naked bodies piled 4 feet high on the vomit-covered floor and bloody claw marks on its doors where the immigrants had tried to get out.

U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore set an April 11 hearing on whether to retry Williams on the 20 deadlocked counts, but no sentencing date was set.

Defense attorneys argued that while Williams was guilty of transporting the immigrants, the ring's other members were responsible for the deaths because they packed too many people into the trailer.

Defense attorney Craig Washington said Williams could not understand the immigrants' pleas because he does not speak Spanish, but when Williams found out what was happening, he bought 55 bottles of water for them at a truck stop and shoved them through the hole in the trailer.

However, Fatima Holloway, who rode along with Williams, said she pleaded with him to help the immigrants sooner. She said both of them could hear the immigrants banging on the sides of the trailer.

Williams "was just trying to get rid of them. He was just concerned about his truck," she testified.

Williams, a Jamaican citizen who lives in Schenectady, N.Y., was the only one of 14 defendants in the case to face the death penalty. Federal law allows capital punishment in fatal smuggling cases.

Washington had argued that Williams faced the death penalty because he is black. Prosecutors have said he deserved such punishment because he alone could have freed the immigrants.

In December, two other defendants in the case were convicted of various smuggling charges and are awaiting sentencing. Five others have pleaded guilty. One man remains a fugitive.


Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2005, 12:08:00 PM »
I'm not sure if this is considered a minority legal issue...what do the 1Ls on the board think about the recent turn of events in the Michael Jackson Trial? They are allowing testimony from previous accusers to be submitted to establish a pattern of behavior. Hmmmm
Jackson's 'past' allowed in court 
Jackson says he is the victim of a conspiracy
The judge in the Michael Jackson trial has ruled that previous allegations of child abuse made against the pop star can be used in evidence.
Judge Rodney Melville announced his decision on Monday after hearing submissions in the jury's absence.

The ruling could have a significant impact on the future direction of the trial, correspondents say.

The pop star denies 10 charges of abuse and false imprisonment and says he is the victim of a conspiracy.

"I am completely, completely innocent," he said on Sunday.


Judge Melville has set aside half a day to hear the lawyers' arguments on Monday.

Santa Barbara district attorney Tom Sneddon argued that the jury should be told about at least two cases in the 1990s where the singer was accused of molesting young boys.

Jackson supporters have stayed put outside the courthouse
Speaking of one previous alleged victim, Mr Sneddon said: "The victims are similar in age, the way the victims were cultivated are similar, the crimes are similar."

He did not give details of when the alleged abuse happened, but said the accuser would testify to three incidents that "involve the genitalia of the child."

The most widely reported case involved teenager Jordan Chandler, who said he was abused by the pop star in 1993.

The case was settled out of court, reportedly involving a payment of $26m.

At the time, Mr Jackson vehemently denied anything improper ever took place and later said he chose to pay the boy a "considerable sum of money" to avoid being subjected to a "media circus" at a trial.

No criminal charges were ever filed.

Documents which are understood to be Jordan Chandler's sworn declaration, a graphic account of alleged sexual encounters with Michael Jackson, have since been published on the internet.

The prosecution wants such evidence to back up and give credibility to the claim of Gavin Arvizo - the boy at the centre of the current trial. Gavin Arvizo says he was abused by the singer in 2003.

The prosecution is hoping to expose similarities between the nature of the current allegations and those from a decade ago, says the BBC's Peter Bowes in Santa Maria, California.

The defence was expected argued that the past has no relevance to this trial.


Re: Minority Legal Issues
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2005, 12:57:54 PM »
Black Teacher Claims Hostile Environment In Suburban School
Suit Seeks $500,000 In Compensatory, $1M In Punitive Damages

POSTED: 4:44 pm EDT April 26, 2005

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. -- A black teacher at a Howard County high school filed a $1.5 million suit against the county school system last week, alleging that a former principal and fellow faculty members subjected her to racist remarks and harassment, creating a hostile work environment.

In a suit filed in federal court in Baltimore last week, Michelle Maupin claims her colleagues at Centennial High School in Howard County, retaliated against her when she complained -- even, at one point, leaving a picture of an "ape-like" creature on her desk that Maupin saw as a racial slur.

Maupin said her problems began in August 2003, when parents of white students complained to then-principal Lynda Mitic about Maupin's teaching style. Maupin had just been hired to teach at the Ellicott City school and was, at that time, the only black teacher in a faculty of more than 100, the complaint says.

At a meeting the following month, "Mitic stated to Maupin that blacks are not warm and compassionate people and that due to Maupin's race, Mitic doubted that she had the intelligence to teach students of the caliber at Centennial," the complaint alleges.

More than two thirds of Centennial's student body is white, 25 percent is Asian and 6 percent is black, according to a school profile posted on the school system's Web site.

Maupin complained to Eileen Woodbury, a special assistant to the county superintendent -- and later to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2004 -- sparking a campaign of harassment, she claims.

For example, Maupin claims that another faculty member, Margaret Polek, left a newspaper article with a picture of a small, ape-like creature on Maupin's desk -- "a clear reference to Maupin's race and size," the complaint states.

Polek told the administration that she had used the article in a class and had inadvertently left it behind, according to the complaint. Maupin alleges that she asked "several" of Polek's students and they "refuted" that explanation.

Maupin also claims to have been treated unfairly during observations and ostracized, junior high-style, during an English department lunch.

"(W)hen Maupin arrived in the room and sat at a table with other faculty members, her fellow teachers got up and took other seats around the perimeter of the room, leaving Maupin sitting at the table by herself," the complaint alleges.

The harassment began to decrease in February 2005 following a complaint to Nancy Grasmick, the state superintendent of schools, Maupin asserts.

The suit, which seeks at least $500,000 in compensatory and $1 million in punitive damages, also names Howard County as a defendant. But County Solicitor Barbara M. Cook said that the county is not responsible for anything that the school system does.

"They're alleging that the school system is an agency of Howard County and it's not," she said, explaining that the school system is separate. "We'll get served, but we'll get out."

Maupin, reached at her home in Columbia by The (Baltimore) Daily Record on Monday, declined to comment on the case