Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: November 2010 Archives

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November 26, 2010

R.I.P. -- Annie Lee Cooper

The Selma Times-Journal reports: Annie Lee Cooper, a civil rights hero, died Wednesday afternoon at Vaughan Regional Medical Center. She was 100 years old.

Cooper became known worldwide in 1965 for a confrontation with Sheriff James G. Clark.

Historian David J. Garrow tells the story in his book, "Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Voting Rights Act of 1965," which was released in the 1970s by Yale University Press.

According to Garrow's documented version, Cooper had stood in line for hours outside the Dallas County Courthouse to register to vote. Clark ordered the 224-pound, 54-year-old African-American woman to go home. Cooper clamed he poked her in the back of the neck with either a billy club or a cattle prod. Cooper turned and delivered a right hook to the sheriff's jaw. He dropped to the ground. -- Read the whole story --> Annie Lee Cooper, civil rights legend, dies | The Selma Times?Journal

Read about Ms. Cooper in Garrow's book, pages 45-47.

November 25, 2010

Shelby County: summary of DOJ and amicus arguments

The Birmingham News reports: The U.S. Justice Department and civil rights advocates representing black voters in Shelby County have asked a federal judge to uphold the historic Voting Rights Act as a fair and still-necessary deterrent to bias at the ballot box.

"Unchecked racial discrimination in voting erodes our Constitution's promise of equality, sharply undermines the integrity of our democratic processes, and imposes significant harms on our citizens and nation," the groups wrote recently in a joint court filing.

Shelby County sued the Justice Department earlier this year, alleging two key sections of the Voting Rights Act are unconstitutional because Congress did not have enough evidence of blatant government discrimination against blacks to warrant the law's extension.

The conservative, strongly Republican county south of Birmingham is taking the stand on its own behalf and the behalf of others in the South who say the law has outlived its usefulness and is burdensome to taxpayers. Read the whole article --> Voting Rights Act still vital, representatives of Shelby County blacks tell judge |

November 24, 2010

Jefferson Co., AL: recount for judge race, completed

The Birmingham News reports: A recount in the race for Place 20 on Jefferson County Circuit Court gave Julie Palmer an additional 410 votes and a long-awaited victory in the election that took place on Nov. 2.

The automatic recount was held today because the general election vote total put Palmer, a Republican, and Agnes Chappell, a Democrat, within one-half of 1 percent of each other. The count that the county and state certified after the election had the two candidates 245 votes apart, out of some 205,000 ballots cast.

Today's recount gave Palmer a 655-vote lead. She wound up with 102,985 votes, or 50.16 percent. Chappell ended up with 102,330 votes, or 49.84 percent. -- Read the whole story --> Recount secures Palmer victory in Jefferson County Circuit Court race |

November 23, 2010

Alabama: Iron Bowl tickets as an ethics problem

The Birmingham News reports: Jim Metrock pulled out a binder. Inside was page after page of contact information for members of the Alabama Legislature, with symbols and codes that only he can decipher. This is how he tracks which legislators plan to accept free tickets to Friday's Iron Bowl. ...

Legislators get free tickets to other events. But because it was the Iron Bowl, Metrock saw an issue he could use to promote ethics reform.

Iron Bowl tickets have a face value of $65. StubHub, an online ticket site, reports its average Iron Bowl ticket on the open market is selling for $394, up from $248 a year ago. ...

Metrock wrote to nearly every legislator and candidate, asking them not to accept free tickets and a parking pass from the University of Alabama. He wrote several times to Alabama, asking it to change its policy. He wrote to and met with the Alabama Ethics Commission, asking members to change their interpretation of the law. -- Read the whole story --> Iron Bowl 75: Crusader Jim Metrock seeks to end free-ticket tradition for Alabama Legislature |

Jefferson Co., AL: recount for judge race

The Birmingham News reports: Jefferson County will conduct a recount Tuesday of ballots cast Nov. 2 for the Circuit Court Place 20 contest, Probate Judge Alan King, the county's chief election official, said Monday.

The state canvassing board certified statewide election results after a noon meeting Monday, confirming that the Place 20 votes were within one-half of one percent and triggering an automatic recount.

Currently 245 votes out of some 205,000 cast separate Julie Palmer, the Republican who currently has the lead, and Agnes Chappell, a Democrat. ...

The recount must be completed within 72 hours after state election officials certify the vote. That period would end Thanksgiving Day, the first of a two-day county holiday. -- Read the whole story --> Recount set in Jefferson County Circuit Court race between Julie Palmer and Agness Chappell |

Alabama: defense funds for indicted senators

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Legal defense funds are be­ing established to help defray the legal costs of two state sena­tors indicted for allegedly par­ticipating in a vote-buying scheme in the Alabama Legisla­ture.

Supporters have already es­tablished a legal defense fund for state Sen. Quinton Ross of Montgomery, and one is in the works for state Sen. Harri Anne Smith of Slocomb.

Both Ross and Smith were two of the 11 people indicted in an alleged scheme to buy votes in support of a bill that would have allowed Alabama voters to decide whether to legalize electronic bingo. ...

A group of people calling themselves the "Friends of Sen­ator Quinton T. Ross Jr." estab­lished a defense fund for Ross, but wanted it to be clear that he will in no way be the person so­liciting funds. He does serve on the advisory committee for the fund, according to the its web­site -- Read the whole story --> Defense funds being set up for Ross, Smith | | Montgomery Advertiser

November 21, 2010

"The quiet authority of John Doar"

The Anniston Star comments: John Doar puts a lot of value in the softly spoken word. He doesn?t bark or scold, he could never be accused of thundering orders. He merely explains in a gentle way that carries forward an almost subliminal passion. It is a talent that has served him, and the nation, well.

Witness the closing arguments in the 1967 trial of men in Philadelphia, Miss., accused of killing three civil rights workers in 1964. Doar, then the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department and the lead prosecutor in the case, knew he had a tough case to sell.

Despite the strong evidence he had in this earlier example of American terrorism, he knew he would be standing in front of an all-white jury in apartheid-era Mississippi.

So he searched for the most compelling words he could find. At first, he turned to the law library. But the legalese wasn?t working. This demanded going to another level, to a place that would offer a deeper reflection of the sense of the horrors dished out to three young men in Neshoba County, Miss., during Freedom Summer 1964.

And so it was that he settled upon passages from Judge Robert Jackson?s closing arguments in the Nuremberg trials in 1946.

Calm but passionate language, rife with poetry and sprinkled with Shakespeare; it worked in the aftermath of Nazi Germany and it worked for John Doar in deepest Mississippi during its own time of terror. -- Read the whole piece --> Anniston Star - Local News, Business, Sports, Events, Blogs, Videos, Podcasts

November 16, 2010

Lauderdale and Lawrence counties: authomatic recounts

The Times Daily reports: Recounts on Monday put to rest two northwest Alabama elections that were left unsettled after the Nov. 2 general election.

In both cases, the incumbents will continue to serve.

Lauderdale County District 1 Commissioner D.C. Thornton, D-Rogersville, and Lawrence County school board member Jackie Burch, R-Moulton, were declared winners after the recounts.

Thornton and Burch received the most votes in their elections Nov. 2, but failing to win by more than a one-half percentage point resulted in an automatic recount. -- Read the whole story --> Incumbents win recounts | | The Times Daily | Florence, AL

Madison Co: returning polling places to schools

The Huntsville Times reports: The Madison County Commission wants voters to return to schools to cast their ballots in future elections when students are not in class.

The commission this morning approved a resolution asking that local school systems starting with the 2012 elections either make election days a holiday or teacher work day and allow school buildings to be used as voting places.

The action comes nine months after the commission adopted a new voting location lineup that merged several polling places and vacated all voting places in schools but one. ...

The resolution notes that school buildings are owned by taxpayers, located in neighborhoods and usually have adequate parking and space to conduct elections. It also recognizes that voting at schools with students present raises security, congestion and parking issues. -- Read the whole story --> Madison County Commission wants to send voters back to school |