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Lame, retread move against monuments to fail

If you’re going to use a lawyer to keep you out of the slammer, at least have one who pays a bit more attention to the law and somewhat less to proselytizing with weak argumentation.

It turns out a convicted felon in East Feliciana Parish got caught with a handgun in his possession. Often, these cases end up handled by a public defender, but this guy somehow drew the services of Niles Haymer, at present best known for defending his brother Nathan after Southern University fired the latter for activities as band director, now subject of a lawsuit.

This recent headline-grabber overshadows Niles Haymer’s past remonstrations about Confederate monuments here and there across Louisiana. Last year, Haymer posted an article on a website prone to playing with a forced deck full of the race card, in which he decried that so many (actually, only a handful of) courthouses in Louisiana have Confederate memorials of some sort around them. He specifically mentioned trying one of his first cases in East Feliciana Parish and noting its rebel monument.

Now he has a chance to strike back. Haymer has filed a changed of venue request for his client, who is black, arguing the defendant can’t get a fair trial in Clinton because of the monument. As the motion reads, “No court system would expect a Jewish person in Germany or America in 2018 to enter a Courthouse with Nazi monuments and symbols engrained in its architecture.”

Of course, the only real National Socialist symbol, the swastika, is revered as sacred by religions around the world, which illuminates the paucity of his argument. Just because he chooses to invest a particular meaning to symbolism doesn’t mean everybody must conceptualize it in the same way. It takes more than imputation to determine what attitudes may extend to behaviors that display any unconstitutional treatment.

That was the gist of a Louisiana Supreme Court case from 2011 concerning a Caddo Parish convicted felon. After being found guilty, the black convict sued to overturn that, presenting a multitude of reasons that included inability to receive impartial consideration because of the Confederate monument outside the Shreveport courthouse.

To say the least, the Court found that reasoning wanting. Not only did it note he never brought the matter up for trial, but also even had he the conduct of the trial showed no evidence that any aspect had been tainted by the monument’s presence that somehow would attract jurors who are, if not that it magically would transform them into, racists. Yet Haymer implies the mere existence of this implies racism so evident that it biases hopelessly trial outcomes from blacks

Although Haymer stated he never had heard of his kind of petition in Louisiana, surely he discovered this case in his research, if he hadn’t known of it already. In fact, he commented last year about the Caddo monument. I hope he is donating his services to the client, because his motion doesn’t have a leg on which to stand.

Simply, this is an attempt to overturn democratic decisions constitutionally made through litigation. Two years ago, East Feliciana debated whether to remove the monument, and decided insufficient justification existed to do so. If somehow Haymer could get the judiciary to buy his feeble rationale, then this would force down all such memorials around courthouses because of the disruption caused to the judicial system.

Fortunately, given its past ruling Louisiana courts seem unlikely to do that. No doubt the state’s judiciary will laugh this one out of the building.

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