by Alton H. Maddox, Jr.
I rejoice that my parents were Rev. and Mrs. Alton H. Maddox, Jr. My father was a minister of “good news” and my mother was an outstanding educator. I still have memories of my father chasing a white, door-to-door salesman off of my block for being “fresh” with my mother. She was my first teacher. My first school was “home training.”
In those days, a child had to have “home training” before he or she was allowed to attend a public school. Compulsory education laws were honored in the breach. Among other things, “planters” and “white supremacists” were opposed to “Negro education.” In fact, Gov. Eugene Talmadge of Georgia was opposed to any positive images of Blacks in school books. The first grade primer was “Dick and Jane.”
This is censorship and it is still widely-practiced in New York today. In those days, Blacks were not fighting for integration. Instead, the struggle in education related to bus transportation and to new and relevant reading materials. No one was concerned about the absence of white children in segregated, public schools. See Briggs v. Elliot.
Although my parents were living in Michigan when I was born, my mother insisted that the family move back to Georgia soon after my birth. She believed that the first six years of a child’s development were important to the foundation for his or her later contributions in life. She would have been strenuously opposed to “pre-K.”
This is a well-known saying: “The hands that rock the cradle rule the nation.” This explains why our children walk the streets showing their “assets.” The segregated South would have never allowed our children to become “heathens.” As the Hon. Elijah Muhammad said: “If they won’t treat you right, why do you think that they will teach you right?”
My mother foresaw the shortcomings and the shenanigans of education in the North. My parents grabbed me and ran for the “Cotton Curtain.” They realized that the education and socialization of Black children in the South were far superior to the learning environment in the North. I would have relived the eighth grade experience of that of Malcolm Little in Michigan.
I first attended Walter B. Hill Elementary School in Turin, GA. This was a satellite school for Tuskegee Institute. Booker T. Washington had designed these feeder schools. They would cultivate an educational market for Tuskegee Institute. The Rosenwald Foundation provided the funds thanks to Sears, Roebuck and Company.
By the time that I was graduated from Central High School in Newnan, GA, I noted in the school yearbook that I wanted to become an accountant. I was graduated from Howard University with a major in business administration and a minor in economics. In addition, I demonstrated a strong emphasis in communications.
In Renaissance Italy, the home of Cosimo dé Medici and Francesco Datini, it required its denizens to understand financial literacy. The Dutch employed this mode to establish modern capitalism and to found the first publicly traded company — the Dutch East India Company. Double-entry accounting was necessary to initiate and maintain chattel slavery.
Double-entry accounting is also necessary for the settlement of accounts which gives rise to the debt of an aggrieved party which should be based on personal knowledge and not on hearsay. An attorney who seeks to settle accounts without personal knowledge of the case is an ambulance chaser. This is the problem with the attorneys for the “Central Park 5.”
A settlement agreement must be just before it is generous. This means that the settlement agreement must include all of the elements of justice including but not limited to: (1) retributive justice; (2) corrective justice; (3) distributive justice and (4) social justice. Generosity involves compensation for all aggrieved persons. No one should be left behind.
Bouvier Law Dictionary defines “settlement” as follows:
The reconciliation of a bill, claim, or dispute. Settlement is the process of concluding an agreement that satisfies a bill or obligation that is owed any one party to another, or that compromises or concludes a claim or dispute between several parties. Thus, to settle an account is either for the debtor to pay the debt or the creditor to excuse or void it. To settle a dispute is finally to resolve the arguments or claims of the parties through performance, payment, abandonment of the claim, or compromise.
It is undisputed that an untold number of young men were falsely arrested in and or about Harlem. Each of these young men has a known or unknown account with the City of New York which must be settled to conclude the “Central Park 7.” The appropriate method to address this problem is through a class action lawsuit under Rule 23 of the FRCP.
In addition to the number of young men who suffered harm, there is also a concern for the number of causes of action. Black’s Law Dictionary defines a cause of action as follows:
A group of operative facts giving rise to one or more bases for suing; a factual situation that entitles one person to obtain a remedy in court from another person.
In the “Central Park 7,” these three major accounts for the defendants are: (1) false arrest, (2) malicious prosecutions and (3) false imprisonment. Michael Briscoe has at least two of the three causes of actions. The remaining six defendants have suffered all three of the remaining causes of actions. Yet, Briscoe and Steve Lopez have been cut out of the agreement.
All four Black attorneys who filed notices of appearances in “Central Park 7” were severely and wrongfully disciplined. This has had a “chilling effect” on all Black lawyers and it has caused economic loss and a loss of their reputations. These sets of facts are actionable under the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for state-sponsored defamation in addition to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. It is also harm to all Blacks under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Six of the wrongfully-convicted defendants in the “Central Park 7” enjoyed the right to counsel on appeal. The pro bono attorney who had demonstrated the greatest interest in the “Central Park 7” had become the victim of state-sponsored defamation. None of the attorneys for the “Central Park 5” had agreed to originally represent them on appeal. They were denied the right to counsel.
This state-sponsored defamation against Maddox not only caused substantial loss of reputation and economic loss but also undermined the chances of the defendants being successful on appeal. The current attorneys for the “Central Park 5” were silent during the original trial and on appeal. I would have been screaming throughout every appellate court in New York.
The parents of the “Central Park 5” plus two also have causes of actions against New York City and New York State. It should have been foreseeable that parents would not only suffer physically but also mentally. There were premature deaths and mental pain and suffering and alienation of affections.
My mother was an educator. She taught school children by day and many of their parents at night. During the 1950’s, there was also an ambitious educational program for veterans. These veterans would rush home from work, shower and dash off to school. They were veterans of World War II and the Korean Conflict.
I adopted this model of litigation and teaching for myself immediately after I arrived in New York City. I was a litigator during the day and an educator at night. My educational chores started at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Teaching was mutually beneficial. I was able to relate to the students and the students sharpened my litigation skills.
I became a pro bono attorney for Coalition for Community Empowerment in Brooklyn. These were politicians who promised to make political changes. Instead of seeking a sinecure or patronage, my aim was to bargain for a public interest law firm at Medgar Evers College. I became the founder of its Center for Law and Social Justice. I had greater expectations for this public interest law firm, however.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines public interest as [t]he general welfare of the public that warrants recognition and protection. Racism in the judiciary should not only be a public interest but also a constitutional interest. A public interest should have intervened on the part of the “Central Park 7.”
The Center of Constitutional Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Law for Social Justice at Medgar Evers remained silent. Mayor David N. Dinkins and Rev. Herbert Daughtry influenced the Center for law and Social Justice. This was prejudicial conduct and irreparable harm.
The landmark decision of Powell v. Alabama came out of “Scottsboro Boys Case.” In 1931, there were no known Black attorneys in Alabama. There is still an under-representation of Black attorneys in New York. A law school should be established at Medgar Evers College to correct this under-representation of Black attorneys.
Because law is very important in the life of descendants of enslaved Africans, there should be an accessible law library in every borough. Today, most law libraries in New York City are for “whites only.” This discrimination is either intentional or unintentional but it is still discrimination and it is a badge of slavery. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Prisons are filled with Black ignoramuses. This is why I must be a prolific writer.
If United African Movement had not existed at the Slave Theater in Brooklyn, harm from the “Central Park 7” would have been far more egregious. The Slave Theater should become a permanent fixture in the Black community. The Black community needs a place of public assembly. Blacks need an “African Meeting Place.” We have unique problems.
The Commission for Concerned Minorities, a blue-ribbon commission, issued a devastating indictment against New York’s judicial system. It noted that this judicial system was infested with racism. It is unquestioned that racism played a pivotal role in manufacturing the wrongful convictions in the “Central Park 7.” This commission’s findings have never been addressed by New York State.
On July 8, 2014, this was a headline in the Huffington Post: “Study Finds Racial Disparities in Manhattan DA’s Office.” I am unable to understand why the attorneys for the “Central Park 5” would rush to complete a “sweetheart ” deal when it has been disclosed that racism is still running amuck in the prosecutor’s office.
The Freedom Retreat for Boys and Girls was organized in 1994. It was inspired, in part, by the wrongful convictions in “Central Park 7.” This sleep-away summer camp in the Catskill Mountains recognized that our children lacked both survival skills and socialization skills. A successful program was designed to correct these educational and social shortcomings. It should be a part of every public school curriculum.
The Freedom Party was also established in 1994 to give Blacks political leverage and a political voice in public affairs. Unjust laws are the primary target of the Freedom Party. The “Malcolm X law” engineered the false arrests in the “Central Park 7.” It must be repealed forthwith. Black and Latino selected officials have not exercised an ounce of energy to repeal one unjust law in New York.
Slave-minded Negroes have no interest in challenging “plantation politics” or questioning a one-sided, “settlement” agreement. They only see themselves as only being part of the plantation. Money is white folks business. Thus, they view any settlement agreement as a “gift” and not a right since bargaining with the slavemaster is out of bounds.
Judicial Evidence: A Silent Killer for All Blacks
Whites are still arguing about the establishment of the first law school in the United States. This debate is of special concern to graduates of Harvard University and graduates of William & Mary College. Harvard Law School was founded in 1829. When the U.S. Constitution was ratified, there was an estimated 112 lawyers. Blacks were still in slavery.
Macon B. Allen was admitted to the Maine bar in 1844. Even though no law school would admit him, he learned the law through an apprenticeship program, like most lawyers. He had worked for white lawyers. Allen was the first Black lawyer in the United States. No lawyer was interested in learning how to competently and zealously represent the Black defendants. This course is still unavailable in all law schools.
The right of Blacks to enjoy competent and zealous counsel was not addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Powell v. Alabama (“Scottsboro Boys Case”) in 1931. The Supreme Court only ruled that a Black defendant was entitled to the assistance of a warm body with a license to practice law. The “Central Park 7” needed more than warm bodies. Six young men were wrongfully convicted because of Sixth Amendment violations.
There must be a stipulation or proviso in any settlement agreement that New York will only admit lawyers who have successfully completed courses on “How to Represent Black Defendants.” A specialized law school must be established at Medgar Evers College and there must be a strengthening of Medgar Evers Center for Law and Social Justice as a public interest law firm.
“When you know better, you will do better.” These are the words of the late Maya Angelou. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Any person who is ignorant of the law should not be seen in public. Six members of the “Central Park 7” were “trespassers” because of their own ignorance of the law and the inability of their parents to retain competent and zealous counsel.
The Central Park 7″ is a landmark case and it emulates the Scottsboro Boys Case. Unlike the Scottsboro Boys Case, there will be a journal to chronicle this struggle. It will be printed after the settlement agreement and for December 2014. Anyone who attends the celebration at the Cotton Club, with their permission, will have his or her name printed as a “booster” in Freedom Journal 2014.
There will be a free legal workshop at the Brooklyn Christian Center, 1061 Atlantic Avenue (bet. Classon and Franklin) in Brooklyn on Saturday July 19, 2014 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Video-taping and audio-taping will not be allowed under any circumstance. Bring pen, pad and clipboard. The first sixty-five persons in attendance at this critical workshop can also purchase advance seating to the Earth Day Celebration to be held on Tuesday, July 22 for Alton Maddox at 8:00 p.m. at the Cotton Club, 656 West 125th Street (nr. Westside Hwy.) in Harlem.
Too honest for the White Press and too black for much of today’s Black Press; bullet columnist Alton Maddox upsets the same people and status quo as he did as an uncompromising Defense Attorney. He is also a founding member of the Freedom Party. Please support the movement to Reinstate him. Contact him at c/o UAM P.O. BOX 35 BRONX, NY 10471.