Alablawg

Commentary on Alabama Law and Society

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Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

TGFM

Thank God For Mississippi. Like Alabama, in days gone by our neighbor to the East (well, eventually it is) West often used the criminal "justice" system to punish people who thought Blacks and Whites ought to be treated equally. As are many people in Alabama, many people in Mississippi are now ashamed of those injustices. After Governor Haley Barbour refused to pardon one such unjustly convicted civil rights worker, Circuit Court Judge Bob Helfrich vacated the conviction. (The whole story is here).

Now Mississippi attorney and racist Richard Barrett wants the judge to withdraw his decision.

Barrett's reasons for trying to block the exoneration could reach far beyond the Kennard case. He feared that actions such as Helfrich's could prompt the state to distance itself from segregationist leaders of the past.

Forrest County stands to lose its name, Barrett said, because its namesake is Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest - founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

That would be truly horrible.

Much to his credit, Federal Judge Charles Pickering opposes Barrett, and filed a response to Barrett's motion.

Pickering, whose family has been in Mississippi seven generations, said no one takes more pride in the state's history than he. The former judge said he was trying to correct an injustice.

"People who cannot win on reason and logic try to enflame the emotions of the people," he added. "Richard Barrett has made a career of doing that."