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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Obama nominates Merrick Garland to replace Scalia, but president has history of backing a judge in the South who helped trample the rights of blacks, women

Abdul Kallon
(From al.com)
President Barack Obama this morning nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit, to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

We strongly support Obama's right to make the nomination, and the Republican notion that the next president should replace Scalia is not supported by law, history, or common sense. We also believe Garland is a reasonable choice--although probably not as liberal as we would prefer--and he should receive a full and fair hearing in the Senate. He also should receive a full vote, and if he is as solid and moderate as news reports suggest, he should be approved and seated on the SCOTUS bench sometime this summer.

Having said that, we are deeply concerned about some of Obama's judicial nominees in, or near, our home base of Alabama. Most troubling is his announcement on February 11 that he was nominating Birmingham-based U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

We made our feelings about that nomination clear in a post titled "Obama nominates Alabama federal judge Abdul Kallon to open seat on U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, proving incompetence still has its rewards."

Since the nomination Obama and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) have misused high-minded rhetoric in an effort to convince the public that nominating Kallon is a wise decision. The public should not fall for it.

Obama said "Judge Kallon has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions.” With all due respect to the president, for whom I have voted twice, that is bulls--t.

Rep. Sewell could hardly contain her glee and reacted with this: "What an awesome nomination! So excited [that] President Obama nominated Judge Kallon for the US Court Of Appeals. Judge Kallon has the integrity, keen legal acumen, and judicial temperament to make him a highly qualified appellate jurist!” That just shows that Sewell is a political hack who knows nothing about Kallon's actions as a judge or a lawyer.

Sewell also said, "This historic nomination could appoint the first African American from Alabama to this appellate bench." That suggests this is all about the color of Kallon's skin and not his abilities as a judge. And that's because his abilities as a judge are slim, at best. Even worse, Kallon has a demonstrated record of working against minorities--especially people of color and women. But Terri Sewll thinks he's an "awesome nomination." Is this woman drunk or clueless--or both?

We've shown that Kallon butchered two cases where my wife, Carol, and I were parties. And by "butchered," I mean he repeatedly failed to follow black-letter law. On at least one issue, his ruling was so off-the-charts wrong that it suggests he not only is incompetent, he's also corrupt. (More on that issue in an upcoming post.) In both cases, Kallon made sure to protect corporate or institutional interests over those of regular folks who had been wronged.

Specifically, Kallon protected the Ingram and Associates debt-collection law firm of Birmingham and corporate interests for which it works--including American Express and NCO, which is widely known as one of the most corrupt debt-collection outfits in the country. (See "The Debt Collector's Creed: Lie early and lie often.")

Merrick Garland
(From nytimes.com)
Kallon also protected the Shelby County Sheriff's Department and sleazy right-wing lawyer William E. Swatek. Keep in mind that Shelby County, Alabama, was the entity behind a lawsuit that wound up more or less gutting key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

But Kallon's dubious actions go way beyond any rulings related to Carol and me. As a lawyer at the Birmingham firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings (BABC), Kallon's main duty was to defend employers who faced allegations of discrimination. That's right . . . if you were a woman, a homosexual, a person of color, a person with a disability, or a person over the age of 40, and you faced discrimination in the workplace, Abdul Kallon was going to do his best to make sure you got shut out in federal court. To Kallon, civil rights are something to be trampled, not to be championed.

How do we know? Consider a case styled McCormack, et al v. Campus Crest Group, et al. (WD of NC, 2011). The case involved allegations that Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, headed then by CEO Ted Rollins, engaged in grotesque discrimination and harassment against female and black employees. Rollins, of course, has appeared regularly here at Legal Schnauzer because of his central role in a divorce case that caused his ex wife, Sherry Carroll Rollins, and two children to wind up on food stamps in Birmingham.

The McCormack lawsuit suggests Ted Rollins is no better as a manager than he is as a husband or father.

How bad was the racial environment at Campus Crest? This is from an earlier post, titled "How far will one company go to avoid hiring blacks":

Charlotte-based Campus Crest Communities, which develops student housing near college campuses, recently issued a $380-million IPO. But according to the lawsuit, the company takes specific steps to avoid hiring blacks for certain positions and fosters a racially hostile environment for the blacks who do work there.

Plaintiff Nicole McAuliffe says in the complaint that Campus Crest McAuliffe practiced blatant discrimination against people of color. She and other staff members were directed to hire predominantly young, white women to available positions at the company's various residential rental properties. She was directed to provide her superiors with photographs taken from the FaceBook or MySpace pages of all applicants she recommended to ensure they were not African American.

One supervisor told McAuliffe, “We have Southern investors; they do not like for us to hire blacks.” Another supervisor stated, "Once you hire an African American, you never can get rid of them because they think they are so entitled.” Several black administrative staff worked in a certain section of the corporate office, and that became known among higher-ups as the "hood."

So the area where blacks worked at Campus Crest was known as "the hood." But that is the least of the indignities black employees were made to suffer:

Qualified blacks--as well as qualified applicants over the age of 40--routinely were excluded from employment opportunities at Campus Crest's residential properties around the country, McAuliffe says.

Plaintiff Heather McCormack states in the complaint that one investor referred to blacks as "Indians." This investor said in a board of directors' meeting that occupancy levels had been reduced because too many "Indians" had been hired.

CEO Ted Rollins joined in the fun at Campus Crest, according to the McCormack/McAuliffe complaint:

Ted Rollins, CEO of Campus Crest, helped create the racially hostile environment, McCormack says. Rollins said one black property manager had caused a section of his apartment complex to fall into disrepair because he had been "throwing out his chicken grease at night."

McCormack faced questions when she hired a black female as one of her direct reports at the Charlotte office. "Who hired the black girl with the red hair?" said one of McCormack's superiors. McCormack says she was under constant pressure to terminate the new employee for false reasons.

Plaintiff Tammy Hughes-Brown says in the complaint that Rollins made it a practice to mimic the voice of a black male in her presence, insisting that he sounded just like Bernie Mac, the late African-American comedian.

For the company's 2009 annual meeting, Rollins and Chief Investment Officer Mike Hartnett presented a DVD that featured the two of them wearing large, 1960s-style "Afros." During a portion of the DVD, Hartnett mimics the voice of a black male, and both executives engage in sexually and racially charged remarks.

We've shown that Bradley Arant was the chief corporate law firm for Ted Rollins and Campus Crest Communities. Who helped defend the company against charges that it practiced nauseating racism against black employees? That was none other than Abdul Kallon. In fact, he only left the case when President Obama nominated him to a judgeship in the Northern District of Alabama. Records show that several lawyers from Charlotte helped represent defendants later, but Bradley Arant was front and center at the start.

Ted Rollins
That's the real Abdul Kallon, the guy who tries to make sure people with dark skin will not receive justice for being treated like dirt in America's corporate environment. That's the Abdul Kallon that Barack Obama and Terri Sewell don't want you to see, because it conflicts with their political agenda.

I agree that lack of diversity on the federal bench is a concern, and qualified black candidates should be given strong consideration. But they should be persons of integrity and intellect and fairness, who hold the law in utmost respect.

Abdul Kallon is none of those things. He should not be on the federal bench, and he certainly should not be promoted.

As for Merrick Garland, we hope Obama actually has nominated a qualified individual. And we hope he receives a fair hearing in the U.S. Senate.

If Garland is as honorable as he appears to be (at the moment), we are all for him. If he is cut from the same cloth as Abdul Kallon, he should be summarily rejected.


Anonymous said...

Is Merrick on the AM list? It would save the congress a lot of time if he is. Just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

Seems safe to assume that Kallon was appointed only for the color of his skin. I see nothing else that qualifies him to be a federal judge.

Smokey said...

There have got to be a bunch of capable black lawyers in Alabama. Why on earth would Obama appoint this clown, Kallon?

Anonymous said...

If this is what is expected to get ahead in life screw people and ruin their lives then I won't no part of it. I just finished "Cash for Kids" a documentary on Netflix. Absolutley horrifying. Sending kids to long prison terms for money for minor offenses and ruining their lives, family, and friends. Most grow up to be substance abusers or simply take their own lives. One kid you can actually hear to brokenness and fear in his voice.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny that certain readers claim they don't want Ashley Madison coverage? But here, you do an in-depth analysis of two federal judicial candidates--both right off today's front pages--and there are only four comments on the post. Meanwhile the Ashley Madison posts are covered up with comments. I bet your page views were down on this post also, even though it makes exactly the kind of pertinent, timely, and hard-hitting analysis readers claim they want.

legalschnauzer said...

You are right on target, @11:10. Very perceptive comment. The page views for this post were roughly 4 to 12 times lower than page views for AM-related posts.

The public clearly wants AM coverage, no matter what some folks say.

Anonymous said...

Well that proves that the AM posts are just to drive up your traffic which is what many have said all along. No real journalistic need for them...just getting people to pay attention to you.

legalschnauzer said...

Uh . . . you are putting words in my mouth, @12:57, and the statistics cited above "prove" nothing of the sort.

I've never said I'm reporting on AM to drive up traffic, and I don't say that here. I simply tell @11:10 that his comment is right on target. Ashley Madison posts draw way more page views than did the post on SCOTUS/Abdul Kallon, etc.

My comment does prove one thing: A number of commenters have claimed the AM story is old and no longer of interest to readers. The numbers show exactly the opposite, and thus, prove those commenters are wrong--as are you.

As an aside: Legal Schnauzer was ranked No. 37 among North American law blogs long before the AM story ever broke. How many law blogs are there in North America? Don't know for sure, but I would guess several hundred thousand. I don't need to use any tricks to drive traffic. I already have plenty of traffic.

Anonymous said...

While the official organs of progressive politics have been broadly supportive of Merrick Garland's nomination to serve on the Supreme Court, privately left-of-center Washington is full of complaints. Garland is both older and less liberal than other potential choices, and it seems very likely that Republicans will block him anyway.

Hasn't Obama learned that this accommodationist strategy didn't work for him in 2010 and 2011, while a harder-line turn in his second term produced results?

Anonymous said...

I thought Elana Kagan's pre-confirmation view was that gun ownership was not a individual right.I guess she hunts with a spear.

Anonymous said...

Roger strongly advice you not censor comments here. Better you can dialogue with your new fans. They might get annoyed and take it out on you. Safety valve and all that, right?

legalschnauzer said...

Take it out on me, how? Not interested in having dialogue with individuals who can't put coherent thoughts together. Also, not interested in having them as "fans." Not sure what you mean by a "safety valve," but that doesn't interest me, either.

Anonymous said...

“Do Republicans really think Donald Trump will make a good Supreme Court choice?” It’s a pretty good question. It’s also the title of a column by one of the Republican Party’s most venerated thinkers, Washington Post columnist George Will.


Anonymous said...

Regarding 9:28 AM

I'm really sad that you don't see dialogue as important! You seem like too many liberals who are very closed minded to other ideas. I don't like saying that but most of my liberal friends would agree with me. Please tell me I'm wrong!

Anonymous said...

If supreme justices’ life tenure were ended, would nominees face less contention?

legalschnauzer said...

@10:02--The people I'm referring to aren't interested in "dialogue." They are foul-mouthed bomb throwers with the mindsets of third graders. (Sorry for that insult to third graders.) Yes, I'm close minded to commenters who use the "F word," call people "slut," "whore," etc.--all while remaining anonymous.

You are talking about people who have proven themselves to be ignorant, classless, and cowardly. So yes, I absolutely am close-minded to their "ideas." You give them way too much credit. They've shown they have no ideas.

legalschnauzer said...

Do you think Donald Trump has been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, @10:00? I would suggest you keep up with the news a little closer.