A threat to Selma’s justice

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 13, 2007

To the Editor:

The hallmark of democracy is based on the fair and impartial application of justice guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Admittedly, the application of fair and impartial justice continues to be a challenge for poor people throughout the world.

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Americans are a proud people who believe in the highest ideals of truth, justice, and fairness.

It is the common acknowledgement of American values that inspires both the young and old to make contributions to securing our collective democracy.

In fact, we believe so strongly in the government of this great nation that we are willing to fight for this same democracy in the United States and throughout the world.

The beauty of the American system of governance is theoretically applied with “due process” for all.

This means that no person can be convicted without the opportunity to have a full disclosure of the facts relevant to defend against unlawful detainment.

Indeed, the American system is touted as the best system in the world and most of us believe it without any mental reservation.

We trust our judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government because we know that the bottom line commitment is fairness to all.

As an African American who aspires to exercise constitutional authority, my heart and mind was seriously disturbed on Jan. 9, 2007, when I was informed that a local attorney, was arrested by a Selma police officer as she attempted to present her client’s case in City Court.

It is unconscionable and certainly unfair to think that any American’s right to have a fair and complete disclosure of facts would be pre-empted by a judge on the grounds that she didn’t want to hear the defense of a client.

This unfair application of the law is exactly what happened to a young African American male and attorney who has lawfully practiced law in Selma for over 34 years.

To add insult to injury a local police officer acting as a bailiff in court arrested the attorney on the grounds of not following a direct order from him.

Since the attorney was not placed in contempt of court, this officer did not have the jurisdiction to execute this arrest.

The rights of Americans should not be trampled on like this.

I am certain that I will continue to discuss this phenomenon on the radio when discussing Grassroots Democracy.

We should all be concerned about this incident for in truth “a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Rev. Franklin B. Fortier Jr.

Grassroots Democracy Commission