October 2011

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Today in Birmingham, civil rights champion Fred Shuttlesworth will be laid to rest, and the day will be filled with celebrations of his life and work. Throughout the tumultuous early years of the civil rights movement, Rev. Shuttlesworth was a force to be reckoned with, and was undeterred in his determination to seek justice despite beatings and bombings and all manner of hatred hurled in his direction. Over the years after the 1965 passage of the Civil Rights Act, Rev. Shuttlesworth did not allow his passion for justice to wane. He continued working to right wrongs and shine his light on racial injustice and inequality, both in Birmingham and in Cincinnati, where he pastored a church. (more…)

Supreme Court Argument In Maples v. Thomas Touches Many Issues, Including Pro Bono

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was Maples v. Thomas, a post-conviction death penalty appeal in which I am privileged to represent a group of former judges of Alabama’s appellate courts and former presidents of the Alabama State Bar as amici. Many readers are probably familiar with the Maples case, which has gotten a lot of attention in the press. In a nutshell, Maples lost his right to pursue post-conviction claims of ineffective assistance of counsel when a deadline to appeal the dismissal of his post-conviction petition was missed. His pro bono attorneys had left the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, and the firm’s mailroom returned the notices to the court clerk unopened. The local attorney who had assisted the S&C lawyers in being admitted was not actually participating in the case, and didn’t know that the S&C lawyers were no longer representing Maples either, so he did nothing. (more…)