Author: Jason Johnson

Alabama AG talks federalism, monuments in Mobile

In a speech well-tailored for his audience at the Brevard Hand-Alex Howard Chapter of the Mobile Federalist Society last week, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall discussed issues of federal overreach and constitutionality. Marshall, who is currently campaigning to the keep the position he was appointed to by former Gov. Robert Bentley, focused his comments on the changing role of attorneys general in the United States and how those changes have impacted the work his office performs daily. “Historically, the attorney general, not just in Alabama, has limited their role to what was occurring within their own state’s boundaries and didn’t see themselves as somebody that would impact or affect issues of national importance,” Marshall said. Yet Marshall said that role began to shift in the 1990s around the time that a group of attorneys general filed a series of lawsuits against the tobacco industry. Those lawsuits’ success resulted in a multi billion-dollar financial settlement, but more importantly, Marshall said, those actions were the first significant example of attorneys general “stepping outside of the criminal justice lane” to essentially bypass Congress and regulate an industry. According to Marshall, that paved the way for other attorneys general to use lawsuits as a means to force federal agencies to change or adopt new regulations. That was the case in 2007 when Massachusetts successfully sued the Environmental Protection Agency, compelling it to label...

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Officer involved in Michael Moore shooting resigns

The Mobile Police Department officer involved in the shooting death of 19-year-old Michael Moore last year has resigned, according to Chief Lawrence Battiste. “Officer Harold Hurst has resigned,” Battiste wrote in a statement released to media late Friday afternoon. “We must still await the findings from the U.S. Department of Justice, and we will continue to fully cooperate with that investigation.” Hurst, who shot and killed Moore following a traffic stop in June of 2016, was ultimately found to have acted within the law after a review by a Mobile County grand jury last fall. As Battiste alluded, a Department of Justice investigation into the incident is still active, though if there have been any developments from that inquiry, they have not been disclosed to the public. No details about the reason for Hurst’s resignation have been released at this time. Since the incident occurred more than a year ago, Hurst has remained on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the federal investigation. Though Hurst was quietly returned to administrative duties only a month after the incident, he was returned to administrative leave after the decision drew criticism from several political and religious leaders, primarily in Mobile’s black community. Moore’s death sparked controversy in Mobile and led to a number of peaceful protests, some held as recently as June of this year. Moore was shot and killed after...

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Moody’s upgrades county’s debt rating

Finding Mobile County’s financial position “solid,” Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the municipality’s debt rating — a designation that will likely lead to lower interest rates when county commissioners borrow money in the future. The long-term debt rating was upgraded from an Aa2 to Aa1 this week, and according to Moody’s, Mobile County has a “sizeable and regionally important tax base” that should see “commercial and industrial growth” continue over the next 12 months. Moody’s also listed the county’s outstanding debt and pension burden as “affordable.” Finance Director Dana Foster-Allen told Lagniappe last week that Mobile County’s current outstanding...

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Art and filmmaking in the juvenile justice system

For children and teenagers in the juvenile justice system, life is not always picture-perfect. Whether from the rural outskirts of Mobile County or the urban center of Mobile, residents of the James T. Strickland Youth Center often have a shared background marked by poverty, blighted surroundings and limited opportunities. While some in the system have committed serious offenses, others are only guilty of missing too much school or being found in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s one of the troubles with the confidentiality of juvenile cases, according to Circuit Judge Edmond Naman. Though he agrees the...

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Few answers for family of man found dead in attorney’s car

It’s been three weeks since 28-year-old Garrett Smith was found dead in a car owned by a local attorney, and with more questions than answers, his family has raised concerns with the Mobile Police Department’s handling of the investigation. On Aug. 14, Smith’s body was found in the driver’s seat of a dark gray BMW 328i — belonging to criminal defense attorney Michael Wing — parked along the side of the road near the intersection of Dauphin Island Parkway and Magnolia Lane. Wing and Smith had been traveling together earlier that day. Garrett’s brother, Michael Smith, said Garrett was...

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