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Friday, September 19, 2014

Black community needs legal education and decent representation

Attorney Shirley Allen Cunningham, Jr., star of American Greed, was convicted in fen-phen scam.  Cunningham wrote an article for my first magazine in 1981.
After what happened to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, Jr., many people are finding new reasons to distrust the U.S. criminal justice system. They increasingly lack trust in the police, who are changing their motto from "To protect and serve" to "Duty, Honor, Community."

We also lack trust in lawyers. Attorneys are business people who get paid whether you win or lose your case, and according to one friend who is a lawyer, attorneys working pro bono (free) are rare. Attorneys are not like plumbers you hire to fix your toilet. If it backs up again, they rarely offer you a refund.

Julian Bond once told me that the legal profession is second to prostitution, and lawyers are best depending on how much money is involved!

Who can you trust? Are blacks suckers because they don't know how the Justice System works, or are all of us headed to jail, which is what author Neely Fuller, Jr. predicts?

According to the NAACP, here is one alarming fact about African Americans and the Justice system:
Blacks are 14.2% of the US population, or 43 million people. (, Can enough jails be built to house all of us in a system which uses prisoners for slave labor? Some crooks do need to be behind bars, but black incarceration rates are suspect...and all this while we have a Black President and Attorney General!

Corrupt lawyers
I have reverence for the legal profession and used to love watching Perry Mason. Two of my most beloved friends are lawyers living in California, but check this out...

In 1981, Attorney Shirley Cunningham, Jr. wrote an article for my premiere magazine, Reality World, entitled, "The Black Lawyer/Client Relationship."

In the article, Cunningham wrote, "Past experience has shown that some Blacks will take valuable time of Black lawyers to discuss problems. If Black lawyers do not charge fees for such discussions, they might lose money needed to support their own businesses."

Unfortunately, I handed over a small retainer to Cunningham to represent me in a discrimination case, and he didn't even show up for the hearing. Today, Cunningham is spending his time in federal prison in Mississippi after receiving a 20-year sentence for stealing $90 million from clients.

I also gave a $1000 retainer to a lawyer, and he left the state with my money and my file. Another lawyer was hired on a $2000 retainer, and after he did no work on my case, I demanded a refund and got it only after contacting the Georgia Bar. I fought the case in court pro se and won, but by then the defendant had gotten rid of all his assets, and I have not been able to collect my judgment. His lawyer was disbarred for insurance fraud.

Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama, and Former Secretary General Hillary Clinton are all lawyers.
From past experience, I know you have to take your time and be careful when choosing an attorney. "Buyer beware" should be your motto should you decide to hire ANY lawyer. No lawyer can guarantee you will get justice - it's a crap shoot. You may not win your case or be treated fairly, and the Code of Professional Conduct and Bar Associations can do little when it comes to complaints except revoke a license after damages have already been done.

(Holder's video message to citizens addressing racial bias in criminal justice system:

We need to ask the question, "How can we guarantee that justice will prevail on our side?" Maybe the answer is that justice will never be a part of our legal system, so we have to look elsewhere for its attainment.

(Photo of Holder - This image was originally posted to Flickr by Obama-Biden Transition Project at It was reviewed on 06:17, 31 October 2009 (UTC) by FlickreviewR, who found it to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0, which is compatible with the Commons.)

1 comment:

  1. Shirley Cunningham was stealing from people long before his arrest in 2009. he just got very, very, good at it before he was caught


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