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Friday, November 16, 2007

Important Case, Questionable Judge

An important legal case is taking place in Birmingham, and it hits close to home on several fronts here at Legal Schnauzer.

Mayor-elect Larry Langford faces a challenge of his qualifications for the office, which require that he be a resident and registered voter in the city. Patrick Cooper filed the lawsuit after finishing second in the October 9 election. Langford won by a large enough margin to avoid a runoff.

Langford contends that he changed his official home to a downtown Birmingham loft last summer. Cooper says Langford continues to live in the house he bought in 1982 in Fairfield, a Birmingham suburb.

If Langford is found to be a Fairfield resident, he would not qualify to be mayor.

One interesting aspect of the case is the judge, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Allwin Horn. I've had occasion to see Judge Horn in action a time or two in the past year, in a case related to the Legal Schnauzer case featured here. So far, I've been extremely unimpressed with Judge Horn, and if my experience is an indicator, I question whether justice will be done in the Cooper/Langford lawsuit.

Horn is a Republican, and evidence I've seen suggests he is more interested in toeing the party line than in administering justice. I'm not familiar with the law in the Cooper/Langford case, so I have no idea how it should turn out. But with Horn in charge, regardless of the outcome, I would have concerns that politics played a major factor.

I don't live in the Birmingham city limits, but I did live there for almost 12 years and I work there. So I very much want to see the city prosper. Like so many events in our community, the mayoral election was touched heavily by race. Both Langford and Cooper are black. But Langford drew strong support from the city's black voters, while Cooper was seen more favorably by whites.

It's a non-jury trial, so it all comes down to Horn. Based on personal experience, I don't feel real comfortable about that.

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