The annual Lionel R. Collins dinner, co-hosted by Rodney & Etter, LLC and McGlinchey Stafford, LLC on July 30, 2013, was a success that was well-attended by judges from both state and federal benches. The dinner is held to commemorate the progress made by African-American judges since the landmark 1991 Clark and Chisom cases and occurs during the National Bar Association’s annual convention; held this year in Miami, Florida.
Current and past African-American jurists and invited guests come together to hear speakers on topics ranging from equal opportunity, civil rights, and emerging social trends of import to the courts. Past speakers have included Mr. Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative; past Mayors of the City of New Orleans; C. Ray Nagin and Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; Mr. Ron Chisom, the lead plaintiff in the Chisom case; Louisiana Supreme Court Justices Bernette J. Johnson and Revius Ortique, Jr.; Former Louisiana State Attorney General Richard Ieyoub; Harvard Law School Professor and well-known scholar and civil rights activist, Lani Guinier; William Quigley, Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City; and Ronald L. Wilson, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys in the original Chisom case and many others.
Attorney Sherrilyn Ifill was this year’s Keynote Speaker at the Lionel R. Collins dinner. Ms. Ifill is the seventh President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Among her successful litigation was the landmark Voting Rights Act case Houston Lawyers’ Association vs. Attorney General of Texas, in which the Supreme Court held that judicial elections are covered by the provisions of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. A critically acclaimed author, her book “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” reflects her lifelong engagement in and analysis of issues of race and American public life. Ifill’s scholarly writing has focused on the importance of diversity on the bench, and she is currently writing a book about race and Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Ifill is the immediate past Chair of the Board of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute, one of the largest philanthropic supporters of civil rights and social justice organizations in the country. Ms. Ifill is also a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.
Roy J. Rodney, Jr., managing partner at Rodney & Etter, LLC, has been involved in voting rights and other civil rights cases, including Clark and Chisom, since the start of his career. Most recently, he successfully ensured the voting rights of individuals displaced by Hurricane Katrina when the firm filed the historic case of Gerald Wallace, et al. v. Michael Chertoff, et al,, No. 2:05-cv-5519 (E.D. La. 2006).Tags: american judges, attorney general of texas, bernette, bryan stevenson, center for constitutional rights, chisom, city of new orleans, civil rights activist, harvard law school, houston lawyers, judicial elections, keynote speaker, law school professor, louisiana state attorney general, mcglinchey stafford, national urban league, ray nagin, supreme court justices, voting rights act