As Federal Grand Jury Begins Calling Witnesses in JWP Case, the Past Collides With the Present

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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I have been looking back at the federal corruption conviction that forced the late Al Lipscomb off the Dallas City Council in 2000. That conviction was set aside two years later by a conservative panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

We have lessons, people. Lessons.

Lipscomb, a revered black leader, was convicted of taking cash bribes from Floyd Richards, the white owner of Yellow Cab, in exchange for votes Lipscomb cast on the council that helped Richards by driving minority cab owners in Dallas out of business. So Lipscomb was convicted of screwing people of color to help a white guy.

Just as he was about to pass sentence on Lipscomb, U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall traipsed into his own mini-scandal over a story published by the Observer showing that lawyers who practiced in Kendall's court had been making anomalously generous campaign contributions to Kendall's wife's city council campaign in an affluent new-money suburb.

Kendall, viewed as aggressively pro-prosecution in his handling of the trial, suddenly found mercy in his heart and sentenced Lipscomb to 41 months house arrest instead of a stretch in the penitentiary. Not long afterward, Kendall stepped down from the federal bench -- a thing federal judges do not often do.

I say he was viewed as pro-prosecution because his handling of the trial was the basis for a conservative appeals court panel's voiding of the verdict two years later. I'll get to that.

But the first thing that leaped out at me from my reading of the clips on the Lipscomb trial was something I found in a story by one of my favorite reporters of all time, a guy I have always really admired, trusted and found quite good-looking -- myself. In it I quoted Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, before he was called as a witness for the defense in the Lipscomb trial.

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Photo by Sam Merten
Al Lipscomb outside the courthouse during the trial of Don Hill
Price, of course, is now the focus of a federal inquiry in which grand jury proceedings begin today. The FBI has been carting off boxes of files from the homes and offices of Price and a coterie of associates, as well as from Hillwood Development, the company owned by the wealthy, quite white Perot clan.

In 2000, Price gave me his view of Lipscomb and the charges against Lipscomb: "He is charged with corruption," Price said. "He isn't charged with taking money.

"If you're asking me if Al Lipscomb takes money, I'll say, sure, Al has always accepted money. Most civil rights leaders in this city have probably always had beneficiaries in the white business community who could not afford to be identified. That comes all the way from the era of the Underground Railroad.

"But if the question is, was Al Lipscomb corrupted by that money, then the answer is definitely no. Al Lipscomb was never corrupted."

I look at that quote now, and even though I'm usually high on my own stuff, I wonder why I didn't challenge Commissioner Price a bit more, back in the day.

Why didn't I say, "Where do you get this junk about the question? I don't think the law gives a crap if he was corrupted. They just want to know if he took the money. That's what you get sent to the pen for -- the money, in exchange for the vote. Corruption is a concept better dealt with by songwriters, like, 'I did it my way.' In court they don't care about your way. They care about their way."

But I didn't challenge Price more. A shame. Maybe some problems could have been avoided.

But here is the other larger thing that leaps out from a rereading of the Lipscomb verdict at the appeals court in New Orleans. You know how some people are always saying Al got off on a technicality?

No way. This was a major finding of judicial bias. That panel in New Orleans was known for being very conservative on civil rights issues. In spite of that, they found that Kendall had stepped all over the law and into some serious doo-doo by taking it on himself -- not at the request of either side in the trial -- to ship the Al trial to Amarillo, where the federal jury pool was all-white and very West Texas ... not that there is anything wrong with that, if any friends of mine from places like, say, Canyon or somewhere, might be reading this.

Before Kendall shipped the trial out there, all kinds of rumors were flying around town to the effect that Al could not be convicted in Dallas. Some of it had to do with his revered status in the back community. But there were other reasons.

The defense had leaked information showing that, before the feds got Floyd Richards to flip against Al, Richards passed a lie detector test with flying colors to the effect that he had never asked for votes in exchange for the money he gave Lipscomb.

Yeah, well. Al was no dummy. You didn't have to write it out.

What bothered the appeals court was that Kendall had not tested any of this before kicking the trial out of town. He had made none of the tests required by case law to see if the jury pool in Dallas was irreparably poisoned. The appeals court said he should at least have tried to voir dire a jury -- fill a courtroom with potential jurors and grill them to see if he could fill a jury with people who could be impartial. He never did.

I called a prominent defense lawyer in Amarillo right after Kendall announced he was sending the trial out there for a story about the federal jury pool, which was drawn from 18 sparsely populated counties. We spoke on background, because he said he couldn't afford for people in Amarillo know he talked to the foreign press.

We spoke for about 10 minutes -- I was explaining the case -- and suddenly he interrupted me. He said, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Are you telling me this guy's black?"

I said yes.

He said, "Oh, he's toast. Toast. A black guy? He'll be found guilty by virtue of the fact that he's inside the courthouse."

He told me whenever he had difficult capital murder cases to defend in Amarillo, he always tried to fill his jury with Baptists.

I said, "Why Baptists?"

He said, "To keep the Church-of-Christers off."

And even that only worked for white guys.

Look, sending the Lipscomb trial out there was a death penalty for Lipscomb's side. If white people in Dallas think Lipscomb got off on a technicality, everybody black in town knows better, whether they admired Lipscomb or not, and there were plenty who did not. This is about the federal justice system. It can have a bad name in black Dallas, and there are reasons. The Lipscomb trial is only one of them.

In my re-readings, I came across this interesting summary of Lipscomb's conviction by the Amarillo jury. This was from the late Tony Garrett, a political consultant and friend of Al who had followed the trial very closely. I wasn't allowed to name Tony at the time, but I can out him now because he is no longer with us, and I am relatively though not totally confident that he can't get to me.

Tony said of the outcome in Amarillo: "They railroaded a guilty man!"

The more recent trial and conviction of Dallas City Councilman Don Hill may have cut the other way. A lot of people, black and white, seemed to have been persuaded by the government's case against Hill, and anyway there was no obvious herky-jerky going on like sending the trial to Australia.

I am thinking of the rally at St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church over the weekend and of Gromer Jeffers's pay-waller column in The Dallas Morning News today, in which he writes about the deep misgivings of the black community as it confronts another federal prosecution of a black elected officials, this one the city's most revered.

There are reasons -- reasons and reasons. We have a history. Some good. Some very bad. I'm not making excuses for anybody. I'm just saying that everybody needs to go into this chapter with Price, which will be our most difficult to date, with just a tiny little bit of understanding for everybody else.

(In anticipation of possible comments to follow, I would like to stipulate to the following facts in advance: 1) I love white guilt. 2) I am a libtard. 3) I have never produced a proper birth certificate showing I was born in this country. 4) I agree that crazy people high on meth should be allowed to buy small shoulder-fired nuclear weapons without signing anything. What else you got?)

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Guest
Guest

Are we friends, Jim?

Because I grew up in Amarillo.

Beyond all of this Jim mentions (which I'm sure is a legitimate factor in some people's thinking), I think we're largely pre-programed to want to support the people who like or respect or admire and minimize anything that person may have done (or is otherwise accused of).

I had a (white) family member accused of a federal crime a couple of years ago, and my first thought was that he didn't do it. Then when he told me he did what they accused him of (and he did ultimately plead guilty), I immediately went to "I can't believe they're going after him for this silly little thing when they let so many people just commit crimes all day long and don't do anything". I was pissed off that they were singling out my relative when plenty of people surely did far worse things and were allowed to skate.

But I can almost guarantee that if I heard about some unrelated someone doing the exact same thing, my thoughts would be much closer to "throw the book at 'em"

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

There is a first issue going on here, folks. One is the obvious: Did JWP do ANYTHING illegal, and if so, what was it and can they prove it? Attached to that now is WHO are the whites behind it? Innocent until proven guilty, got it.

But the second issue here, RACE and how it is played in Dallas. The farce at St Luke's this past Sunday shows how the black community in Dallas, fearing no man and feeling no shame, will trot out the race card at the drop of a hat. I will keep posting about this over and over, because if someone does not keep reminding people how this has been done for YEARS in Dallas, then it will be S S, D D. (Same Sh%$, Different Day.)

In 1984, there were all kinds of calls and screams over DPD and police shootings. The complaints about how they shot first, etc... but when a cop did NOT shoot first...When  a cop I knew was murdered in cold blood in Pleasant Grove,  NOT ONE minority leader came out in public to mourn his loss, to ask for justice for HIM. But God forbid, one guy who actually threw a machete at a cop and was subsequently shot, was defended, because hey, he had only one machete--and he had thrown it... NO joke.

So, in 1984, Dallas Jackson, anyone remember him? He was calling for riots in the streets, for the burning of the city, during the 1984 GOP Convention. So, the brother of the slain cop and I WENT to MLK Center and spoke with D J and the rest, asking for calm, for brotherhood in the city. What did we hear? The same old, same old.

The Accomodation, as Jim has called it. The minorities threaten to make trouble, the whites ask how much to shut it up. Like a kid screaming for candy at the checkout line... You give in once, what has the kid learned?

This is why Dallas sucks. This is why our economic base in unequal in this city, why our school system is lacking, and why people move their companies NEAR here, but not IN here. A man tries to build the inland port, and supposedly, here come a bunch of folks with an alleged, time-old Dallas tradition: Give us money, or we will scream and call you racist.

It is time for it to stop, and the only way to stop it is for the black community to wake up and realize that they have NOTHING to show for 40 years of this routine. It is time to try peace, patience and a little decorum. --And to rat out the whites who have benefitted from this...

Jay
Jay

Diane, lets not lose sight of the fact that only a very, very small portion of the black population cares enough about JohnWPrice to show up at his pep rallies. It was disappointing to see so many prominent black leaders there, but in retrospect, they're only protecting their own financial interest in the Dallas System.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

[Lipscomb, a revered black leader, was convicted of taking cash bribes from Floyd Richards, the white owner of Yellow Cab, in exchange for votes Lipscomb cast on the council that helped Richards by driving minority cab owners in Dallas out of business. So Lipscomb was convicted of screwing people of color to help a white guy.]

Kathy Neely, close associate of a revered black leader, filed public documents indicating she was taking cash retainers from Allen Mansourian, the white owner of Golden Cab, Executive Taxi and Taxi Dallas in exchange for assistance in obtaining votes cast on the council from CMs Atkins, Hill and Davis that helped Mansourian by driving minority cab owners in Dallas out of business.  So Neely appears to be running a business screwing people of color to help a white guy.

https://lobbyreg.dallascityhal...https://lobbyreg.dallascityhal...https://lobbyreg.dallascityhal...https://lobbyreg.dallascityhal...

JimS
JimS

I could even make an argument that you don't have to hire Neely unless your plans include some ethnic misdirection. If it's  a straight-up deal based strictly on the merits, you might as well hire somebody like Masterplan or Jackson-Walker.

Jay
Jay

If it was a straight up deal, I would think a Dallas citizen or business owner would have access to city staff and office holders to ask questions or express opinions on pending issues. Of course, that would eliminate the jobs of Gate-Keeper and Influence-Peddler, probably adding a full 1% to the unemployment rate in Dallas County.

JimS
JimS

You would think. I would think. But in fact if you find yourself up against it on an important city issue that has any kind of potential city council nexus, it's like the most intricate and dangerous brain surgery you can imagine. That's because we don't have a strong mayor system, but don't get me started. You go down there on your own as just Joe Citizen? Nice knowin ' you.  

CapGuy
CapGuy

The greatest line I have ever read regarding Lipscomb - "They railroaded a guilty man".......I love it.... So true......

JimS
JimS

So Dallas.

W W
W W

These events show US  the polarization.. and bring US one more chance to work on it.

"US" .. the opposite of THEM ,a plural pronoun, possessive "our or ours.."I like the word "possessive"..POSSESSIVE..adj.1. Of or relating to OWNERSHIP or possession.

Only when we,(US) ...are all stakeholders,will we,(US)..be able to say JWP is not the best thatWe,(US) have..

Q..Why Stakeholders?A..Because they can affect or be affected by the organization's actions, objectives, and policies.

FatLadySinging
FatLadySinging

I don't get all these articles explaining what everyone understands which is that the black community has scars from prior mistreatment and is going to be very protective of JWP right now.  What will make this truly the most difficult chapter to date is if the partners in these alleged crimes (i.e. the "Texas Mafia" and their political puppets) ride off into the sunset yet again while this one man goes down for their crimes.  I don't think anyone of any race will tolerate seeing that happen again.

Phelps
Phelps

Your stipulations are all white.  Go to hell.

RTGolden
RTGolden

What are the lessons we were supposed to learn here?1) Judicial misbehavior is/can be/ought to be a bad thing.2) Technicalities can trump justice.3) Either the heat has caught up to Schutze or he's off his meds.4) Dallas is nuts.

Right?

Catbird
Catbird

There are two Americas?

Jay
Jay

I thought we were just being prepared for the "look what you made me do" defense.

Tim Dickey
Tim Dickey

And wasn't Tony Garrett also allegedly the bagman for the topless club cash money boys?

Watching
Watching

Which would explain his attachment to Lipscomb, the pimp of the Adolphus Hotel.

Truth or Consequences
Truth or Consequences

I miss Tony. Great guy. And the conduit for much of the money that flowed from North to South. Many miss Tony!

JimS
JimS

Tony had many reasons to feel compassion for Mr. Lipscomb.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

I've taught hundreds upon hundreds of kids and I can truly say I've seen good in all of them.  I've seen evil in some, but even those kids had goodness.I tell them if they are ever in big trouble, they should call me, bc I am one person out there who can tell of their innate goodness.  So, of course Lipscomb and Price were/are worthy of compassion and how wise of Tony to know it.  We all are, but it amazes me how few people realize that every person out there was once an engaging 3rd grader, a self-conscious 8th grader, a boastful, strutting 11th grader.We just can't let compassion rob justice.South Dallas values loyalty and compassion; North Dallas residents value justice.I'm so white that if I wear white shorts, people think I have pants on.  But I am confident that if I were to show up in one of the South Dallas churches for help, there would be love and mercy for me.  And I'm 100% certain that if JWP's rights are trampled or due process is ignored, lots of North Dallas whites will not stand for it.

Times are changing, racially, but we have go retro when dealing with JWP, his supporters, the FBI.  We just need to tread lightly.  Fairly, but lightly.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Jim,

You forgot to include "no typical white-folks whiffing".

Enjoying a nice Shiner beer this afternoon, kicking back in my khakis, with NPR on the radio, . . .

But, you forgot the other important reason the trial was moved it permitted a lot of North Dallas people to testify without any coverage by The DMN.

Didn't Rev. Holmes testify to the effect that bribery was normal in Dallas?

JimS
JimS

Not sure about Holmes. Anyway, it's not called bribery in Dallas. It's called bein' poztiv.

Jay
Jay

Where is bribery not normal? What exactly do you believe lobbyists do for a living?

Montemalone
Montemalone

Yeah, but at least THEY pay YOU for the bj.

Bob
Bob

I would think that a writer of Schutze's stature (or at least longevity) would understand the meaning of "got off on a technicality."  Schutze says that an appellate reversal based on a finding of judicial bias was NOT a technicality for which Lipscomb "got off."

The reversal was not based on whether Lipscomb was guilty or not guilty of the crimes with which he was charged.  The reversal was not "on the merits", and the appellate court did not reverse the conviction because Lipscomb was, in their opinion, not guilty of the crimes with which he was charged.  The reversal was based on an issue that had nothing to do with whether Lipscomb was guilty or not--it was based on an error the trial judge made in the procedure of the case.  That is what lay folks call a "technicality" and that it why the case was reversed and sent back to Dallas for a new trial.  Lipscomb "got off" because the U.S. Attorney declined to try him again.

JimS
JimS

"Got off on a technicality" implies that Lipscomb was guilty but got off on a triviality. The finding of the court meant that nobody knows if Lipscomb was guilty, because he never got a fair trial. I guess you could say, by your reasoning, that Mr. Lipscomb was convicted on a technicality -- the fact that the trial took place in Amarillo.

Bob
Bob

How in the world could you say, according to my reasoning, "that Mr. Lipscomb was convicted on a technicality -- the fact that the trial took place in Amarillo"?  You have been listening to Sarah or Glenn or Newt too much, I guess.  That just doesn't make sense--or is that your intent?

Jay
Jay

Mr Lipscomb did not get off on a technicality. Neither was he found "innocent" as many of his supporters are fond of saying. His conviction was set aside for judicial error. The US Attorney elected not to retry Mr. Lipscomb. And it was not a civil rights issue for the 5th Circuit. The judge's decision to transfer venue violated the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Rule 18. Place of Prosecution and Trial

Unless a statute or these rules permit otherwise, the government must prosecute an offense in a district where the offense was committed. The court must set the place of trial within the district with due regard for the convenience of the defendant, any victim, and the witnesses, and the prompt administration of justice.

(As amended Feb. 28, 1966, eff. July 1, 1966; Apr. 30, 1979, eff. Aug. 1, 1979; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002; Apr. 2008, eff. Dec. 1, 2008.)Rule 21. Transfer for Trial

(a) For Prejudice. Upon the defendant's motion, the court must transfer the proceeding against that defendant to another district if the court is satisfied that so great a prejudice against the defendant exists in the transferring district that the defendant cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial there.

(b) For Convenience. Upon the defendant's motion, the court may transfer the proceeding, or one or more counts, against that defendant to another district for the convenience of the parties, any victim, and the witnesses, and in the interest of justice.

(c) Proceedings on Transfer. When the court orders a transfer, the clerk must send to the transferee district the file, or a certified copy, and any bail taken. The prosecution will then continue in the transferee district.

(d) Time to File a Motion to Transfer. A motion to transfer may be made at or before arraignment or at any other time the court or these rules prescribe.

(As amended Feb. 28, 1966, eff. July 1, 1966; Mar. 9, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002.)

Efficiency
Efficiency

Jay, unless you just want to demonstrate your "cut and paste" skills, a simple link will do. . .especially when someone else has stated the same thing you have in a much more succinct way.

Jay
Jay

The (a)-(d) is Rule 21. The heading didn't survive the paste.

Watching
Watching

But -- but -- Al Lipscomb confessed in open court to accepting bribes.   The conviction and lite sentence were based on his CONFESSION.  Also, he kept doing the Fred Sanford routine of faking distress -- at death's door, and yet he was healthy enough to run for council again.What's really creepy about all this -- "federal prosecution of a black elected officials, this one the city's most revered".   Price is the most revered black elected official?  Sickening!

So - no one says Al Lipscomb was an innocent man -- just didn't like the process that took him off the council and out of the bribe-taking business?   Is that the problem with investigating a crook like Price?

Just knew JS was going to forget all about the Inland Port and let his liberal condesending mindset toward Black people take over.  Liberals don't think Blacks are capable of being honest and successful without some liberal pulling their strings.

JimS
JimS

Well, Watching, you do believe in the law, right? And if you believe in the law, then you have to believe in the law 24/7. The judge can't break the law. Or is this way off for you? 

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

When it comes right down to it, Mr. S, most decent folks believe in the truth more than they believe in law. Don't get the two mixed up.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

Oh, yeah, and thanks for the effort. When it comes to truth, a lot of people stop at the law, which can be a mighty low bar.

JimS
JimS

But I do have to say, Perry: the law reads the way it does because in 1,000 years of trying it is the closest we human beings have come to codifying the truth. If you think you can do better, get out your pencil and pad and give it a whirl.

Honeybee
Honeybee

Tangentially related:Recently teachers and head-honcho administrators in Atlanta were caught cheating on state tests.Before the full story came to light, one of the head-honcho people (a black woman) got herself hired as Superintendent by the DeSoto school board (made up mostly of black men and women, I believe).

After all the facts and accusations came out, black parents protested her hiring.  She has been put on paid leave.

So while there is a past that cannot be denied, there is a hopeful future where the content of one's character really does matter more than the color of one's skin.

Black parents demanding honesty and integrity from a black woman in a position of power; it was a great thing to see.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Actually, that was just Karma balancing the scales.Hinojosa to GA, and GA to TX.

JimS
JimS

Yeah. It's hard to see past all the craziness of race some times, but the truth is still out there waiting for us all to find it.

Julia B.
Julia B.

I want to know where exactly was Dallas's depot on the Underground Railroad.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Dallas is still waiting for the Calatrava designs for the underground railroad arch.  Then we'll get our depot.

Montemalone
Montemalone

They tore it down and put up a lifestyle center.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Libtard undocumented, white guilt-ies all going to Hell!

Montemalone
Montemalone

I thought we were already there.It's been a hundred and fuck degrees for the past 2 months.

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