|Kenya Lavender Marshall|
Kenya Lavender Marshall won the Democratic Party primary and faced no Republican challenger in the November general election. But the Alabama State Bar charged that she misappropriated some $30,000 of a client's funds that had been held in her lawyer trust account.
Marshall said she admitted to the charges and agreed to the four-year suspension of her license only because of threats from the State Bar disciplinary committee. In fact, Marshall denied that she had misused client funds.
The State Democratic Executive Committee will meet this afternoon to vote on a motion to rescind Marshall's candidacy and name her replacement if she is removed. A divided Jefferson County Democratic Party narrowly recommended Judge Nicole "Nikki" Still as the nominee if the state party removes Marshall.
Still, who is white, was appointed to the seat by Gov. Bob Riley but came in second to Marshall in the primary election. Marshall, who is black, drew strong support from State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham), among others.
Rogers said the controversy could wind up hurting Jefferson County Democrats in the November general election. Perhaps most troubling, however, was Marshall's description of her interactions with the State Bar disciplinary committee. Reports The Birmingham News:
"I hate that we've even come to this point," Marshall said tonight. "I was told that if I did not submit, I would never practice law in the state of Alabama again."
The State Bar issued an interim suspension of Marshall's license on August 3, after she had won the primary, charging that she spent a client's money to shop, pay bills, and write checks to herself. Tony McLain, general counsel of the Alabama State Bar, said Marshall formally admitted to the charges on Monday. But Marshall later said that came only because of threats from the bar committee regarding her career:
Marshall said tonight that the situation was a mistake connected to her changing bank accounts at the start of her campaign.
"I didn't steal anything from anybody," she said. "Stealing is taking something with the intent to deprive the owner."