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Maddox in the U.S. Supreme Court, part I

Alton H.Maddox | , Jr. | 4/12/2011, 4:40 p.m.

NAACP. DuBois had been engaged in a bitter feud with William Monroe Trotter, who was also a major leader of the Niagara Movement.

Today, virtually all Black leaders share the view that the Black struggle in the courtroom should be led by white lawyers. Charles Hamilton Houston had a different view, however. Even though he was the greatest lawyer--Black, white or polka dot--in American jurisprudence, he is not recognized today. There is no literature about him except a doctoral thesis written by G.R. McNeil.

My demise as a lawyer started with an unprecedented, disciplinary complaint filed by the New York Legislature against me that had honored Barry Slotnick for representing Bernard Goetz I had no white lawyer to vouch for my good character.This is a necessity. Constructive apprenticeships and preceptorships are still relevant to Black lawyers.

Be that as it may, I have taken the first step to invoke the U.S. Supreme Court to correct a longstanding grievance that is now spawning the prison-industrial complex and burdening Black attorneys. Blacks are not entitled to legal and political representation. The American Revolution gave whites legal and political representation. The Civil Rights Movement gave Blacks legal and political presence.

Without understanding the difference between federalism and states' rights, a person is unable to understand the United States. When the Maryland Court of Appeals decided in 1877 that Blacks had no right to be attorneys in Maryland, it was relying on the Supreme Court decision in Bradwell v. Illinois. The high court had decided in 1872 that white women had no future in the law. In terms of legal representation, New York resembles Alabama in the 1920s and Georgia in the 1930s. In Alabama, Black lawyers were whipped, ran out of town or disbarred. When the International Defense League retained Benjamin J. Davis Jr. and John H. Geer to competently and zealously represent Angelo Herndon, an imprisoned communist, Georgia officials were furious. In open court, the prosecutors would refer to the Black attorneys as "niggers" and "darkeys." It would take more than a decade before Georgia would allow another Black

lawyer to be admitted to the bar. One militant lawyer can spoil the barrel.

Since I was constructively disbarred in New York, Blacks have not been able to score any unconditional victories in the courtrooms. See Lemrick Nelson's federal prosecution. His lawyer in the state prosecution was threatened with disbarment if he continued to represent Nelson in federal court.

The estate of Gavin Cato was unable to retain a lawyer to sue the perpetrators who ran over young Gavin. After the assassinations of Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, it is now legal for the NYPD to shoot an unarmed person at least 41 times with impunity. Without Black lawyers, New York has become a police state.

The latest affront was the kidnapping of a Somali boy and prosecution of him as an adult in a federal court in Manhattan. There is no federal jurisdiction. The boy's mother says he is only 16 years of age. Because she is an African, her word is irrelevant and not credible.