Injustice in courts today make me have flashbacks

Published 8:01 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Did you ever have flashbacks to something from years ago? Did something in the present so jolt you that you flashbacked to decades ago? I am having flashbacks from nearly 45 years ago.

It was late 1972 or early 1973. I had been in Selma for a little more than a year. Faya Rose (Rose Sanders) had not been here a year. She had a strong urge for fudge. She is not a lover of chocolate, but I think she was pregnant with our first child. I took her to the only place I thought might have fudge — A Dairy Cream or Dairy Dream or something like that. She got out and stood in line with others while I remained in the car.

I noticed that every one in line was white except for Faya. At the time, I did not know that African Americans could not go to the Dairy Cream (or whatever its name was) because, after all, this was 1973, at least eight years after the passage of the Public Accommodations Act, which opened all stores to the public.

Email newsletter signup

Suddenly, a white man rushed up to Faya Rose, pushed her down and stood over her. I jumped out of the car, ran over, knocked him down and started helping Faya Rose to get up. The white man got up with a knife, stabbed me in my side and fled. Blood spewed everywhere. Faya took me to the Good Samaritan Hospital and called the police. I remained in the hospital for several days. Years later, I discovered that one of my kidneys functions at a 25 percent reduced capacity. The knife had punctured my kidney, but I did not know it at the time.

Faya and I swore out warrants against the person who pushed Faya to the ground and stabbed me in the side. It turned out that he was a local postman.  He then swore out a warrant against me for assault and battery. I still expected justice. After all, I was protecting my pregnant wife. After all, he had pushed my wife down and was standing over her. After all, every man can legally protect his wife, and after all I was a lawyer practicing in this same municipal court. I knew race was still powerful, but not so powerful to overcome these facts.

The case was tried. The basic facts were not in dispute. Yes, the postman had pushed Faya Rose. (He claimed she did not fall all the way down). Yes he was standing over her after he pushed her. Yes, I hit him. Yes, he stabbed me. Then the Selma Municipal Judge handed down his decision.

My charges against the stabber were dismissed, in spite of the stabbing, the hospitalization and the pushing of my wife. I was convicted of assault and battery and given a jail sentence. The Municipal Judge convicted the stabber of a misdemeanor assault for pushing my wife. As I recall, it was a $20 fine. I was absolutely shocked. I knew what would happen if a black man had pushed a white woman. I knew what would happen if her white husband had hit the black man, and the white man had stabbed the black man. I was not asking for the justice whites would have received. I just wanted minimal justice but received great injustice.

I was placed in jail. I refused to post bail. I announced my intention to remain in jail indefinitely in protest of this injustice. My wife agreed not to post my bail or allow anyone else to post bail.

Within hours, the police chief came to tell me that I had been bonded out of jail. I asked who posted my bail. He said, “It is confidential, and I cannot tell you.” I said, “These are public records.” He said, “Not in my police department.” I said that I was staying in jail since they could not tell me who posted my bond. He said, “Not in my jail. You got to go.” I immediately appealed the conviction to the Dallas County Circuit Court. I kept waiting for notice of a trial date or something. After a number of months, I figured something was awry.

I went to the Dallas County Circuit Clerk. There was no evidence of an appeal. I went to Selma Municipal Court. There was no evidence of an appeal or conviction or charges being filed or a trial being held or a conviction being rendered. From time to time, I would check, but nothing ever showed up.

I had become a lawyer to correct injustices through the court system.

Now I was experiencing injustice firsthand by the courts. I am having flashbacks because of the injustice by some courts today.

It is bad when individuals or groups do injustice. It is very bad when governments do injustice. It is terrible when courts do injustice for they are supposed to correct injustice done to others.