Big-name attorneys join riot lawsuit
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Feb 26, 2003
1/20/13 at 8:13 AM
The roster for the suit
seeking reparations includes
some of the top civil rights
lawyers in the country.
The list of lawyers putting their
names to a lawsuit filed Monday in
U.S. District Court in Tulsa is a roster
of some of the country's leading civil
rights and tort attorneys.
They are also leaders in the international slavery reparations movement.
The suit seeks unspecified damages
for more than 200 survivors and descendants of people who lost their
lives or property in the May 31-June
1, 1921, Tulsa Race Riot.
Harvard law professor Charles J.
Ogletree heads the Reparations Assessment Group, organized two years
ago to begin preparing a lawsuit
against the United States.
His long-time associate, TransAfrica
Forum founder Randall Robinson, also
is a member of the group. Robinson
is among the most outspoken advocates of slavery reparations from European governments as well as the
Johnnie Cochran, perhaps best
known for his defense of O.J. Simpson, has also loaned his name to the
reparations cause, although his actual
participation in lawsuits has been relatively limited.
In fact, one of the questions yet to
be answered is who will emerge as
the lead attorney in the case. Several
sources say most of the work on the
complaint filed Monday was done by
Ogletree and Eric Miller, a relatively
little known Harvard University lawyer.
Local lawyers involved in the case
are Oklahoma Eagle co-publisher Jim
Goodwin; University of Tulsa law professor Leslie Mansfield; Jim Lloyd,
who served on the Tulsa Race Riot
Commission; and Sharon
Cole Jones, whose primary
practice is in probate, estate
planning and juvenile and
Other members of the
team put together by Ogletree include:
Adjoa A. Aiyetoro: co-chairwoman of the Reparations Coordinating Committee and chief
legal consultant to N'COBRA.
Formerly with the Civil Rights
Division of the Department of
Justice and the American Civil
Liberties Union National Prison
Project. Speaks frequently on
slavery reparations. Testified to
Congress in opposition to Clarence Thomas' 1991 U.S. Supreme Court nomination. Currently visiting professor and
scholar in residence at the University of California-Santa Barbara teaching on reparations
J.L. Chestnut Jr.: partner in
Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders,
Pettway & Campbell of Selma,
Ala. Selma's first black attorney. Represented Martin Luther
King Jr., and other prominent
civil rights activists in early
1960s. Autobiography "Black in
Selma" published in 1990.
Counsel in Pigford case, a suit
by black farmers against the
federal government resulting in
a nearly $1 billion settlement.
Willie E. Gary Jr.: partner in
the firm Gary, Williams, Perenti, Finney, Lewis McManus,
Watson and Sperando of Stuart, Fla. Successful personal injury attorney with more than
150 judgments in excess of $1
million. Described on his Web
site as "The Giant Killer." One
of Forbes Magazine's top 50
lawyers. Also operates a large
real estate investment company. In 1995 won a $500 million
judgment against a Canadian
funeral home. With Cochran,
won a nearly $200 million settlement from Coca-Cola. A $5
billion discrimination suit
against Microsoft reportedly fizzled. Maintains his own private
plane, a 737 called "Wings of
Michael D. Hausfeld: partner in the Washington, D.C.,
firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld
& Toll. Specializes in anti-trust,
human rights, discrimination,
environmental and consumer
rights. Clients include Alaska
natives affected by the 1989
Exxon Valdez accident, World
War II Nazi victims, and plaintiffs in a $176 million racial bias suit against Texaco. Won
1997 Public Justice Achievement Award by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ)
for Cox v. Shell Oil Co., a
$950 million settlement that
was then the largest in history.
Suzette M. Malveaux: recently joined University of Alabama law faculty. Formerly
senior associate at Cohen, Milstein, Hausfield & Toll. Specializes in civil rights, fair housing
and employment discrimination.
Class-action targets have included Avis, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and
NationsBank. Sued IBM for its
business relationship with Nazi
Michele A. Roberts: partner
in Washington, D.C., firm of
Shea & Gardner. Ranked first
among D.C. attorneys by The
Washingtonian Magazine. Specializes in white-collar crime,
product liability, Tittle IVV,
medical malpractice and commercial litigation. Previously
with Harvard Criminal Justice
Institute and a D.C. public defender.
Rose M. Sanders (Faya
Rose Toure): partner in the
Selma, Ala., firm Chestnut,
Sanders, Sanders, Pettway,
Campbell & Albright. Alabama's
first black female judge. With
Chestnut, was involved in Pigford case. Founder of the Slavery-Civil War Museum, National
Voting Rights Museum and the
Bridge Crossing Jubilee observance of the 1965 confrontation
between law enforcement officers and black marchers.
Joseph M. Sellers: heads
civil rights division at Cohen,
Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll. Previously with the Washington
Lawyers Committee for Civil
Rights and Urban Affairs. Involved in implementation of
Americans With Disabilities Act
of 1990 and Civil Rights Act of
1991. Member of President
Clinton's 1993 transition team.
Dennis C. Sweet III: partner
in the Jackson, Miss., firm
Langston, Sweet & Freese.
Named one of America's Top
10 litigators by The National
Law Journal. Cases include a
$144 million verdict against the
Ford Motor Co. and a $150
million verdict against the makers of the diet drug Fen-Phen.
Randy Krehbiel, World staff
writer, can be reached at 581-8365
or via e-mail at