Sunday, November 4, 2007

A GOP Sacrificial Lamb?

A major story broke over the weekend in Birmingham. Former Jefferson County Commissioner Gary White was indicted on a variety of corruption charges.

The indictment charges that White received goodies for himself from an engineering contractor and an architectural firm doing millions of dollars of business with the county.

A couple of things jump out about this case here at Legal Schnauzer:

* White is a Republican, and I can't remember the last time the local feds--Alice Martin and Co.--went after a GOPer. They've gone after other county commissioners who were black Democrats--Chris McNair and Jeff Germany. And my guess is that it's only a matter of time before former commissioner and new Birmingham mayor Larry Langford is indicted for something. But White? A Republican? Could he be a sacrificial lamb so that Queen Alice and the gang can try to counter charges of selective prosecution?

* One of the charges is that a local architectural firm took White on free South Dakota hunting trips for at least seven years, all while receiving county contracts. That reminded me of a story I heard from a Birmingham lawyer about three years ago. When I told the lawyer what I had experienced from GOP judges in Shelby County, he wasn't surprised in the least. In fact, he couldn't suppress a chuckle. He said certain lawyers who practice regularly in Shelby County take the judges on hunting and fishing junkets to Alaska. My impression was that costs are picked up by the lawyers, who have cases before the judges. This lawyer, who was based in Jefferson County, said he soon was to face one of the favored Shelby lawyers in an estate-related matter in court. The Shelby lawyer had filed a weak case against this lawyer's clients, one that probably should be dismissed summarily. But this lawyer said things probably would not go well for his client. "What chance do I have against this lawyer?" he said. "I don't take the judges to Alaska."

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