Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Intrigue and The N-Word

Posted by Maggie on January 7, 2008

DeKalb County is big. It’s one of the two major counties for the City of Atlanta and also includes Decatur and Emory University. They have a large public defender office that’s included in the State Public Defense system. And now their Chief, or Circuit, Defender, Lawrence Schneider, has been placed on administrative leave.

What kind of offense does it take to place a person in such a large position, who supervises hundreds of employees, off the job pending an investigative hearing? Just one word. The N-word. It seems like a strong action for just one word, right? So you’d imagine it must have been a pretty bad context. Like he called it to someone’s face or in reference to a specific person. But no. In a staff meeting, he told a story of hearing a Judge use the term in 1984. Schneider says the story was to show his familiarity with racial bias in the court system. GPDSC only says there is an “unspecified allegation.”

I’ve seen Schneider’s name in this issue of racial bias before. He’s been quoted concerning the harsher treatment of black defendants in his county. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed, especially in a few specific Georgia counties. (In some, race isn’t as much of an issue. You just have to be poor.)

DeKalb Superior Court Judge Scott moved for Schneider’s removal. Scott says the context is not the issue. Schneider says he’s been feuding with the state over getting data on race and sentencing and it seems there may be other motives.

Something tells me there is more here than meets the eye. The story has been picked up by the AP, it seems, but reports very little except that Schneider used the slur, and of course throws the “public defender” title into the headline. It seems like a pretty strong response to Schneider’s actions. Personally, I am never comfortable hearing such language, but can’t comprehend it being a suspendable offense and one that could potentially lead to removal from office. Schneider has been in office for decades. He’s in an important position. But with what I hear about the politics that goes on inside GPDSC, he may end up being another casualty.

Not that I would ever be a gossipmonger, but any anonymous tidbits on what’s really going on would be appreciated. I really need to get myself an inside source on all things GPDSC.


3 Responses to “Intrigue and The N-Word”

  1. donzell said

    i have some info about this situation. if it is true, it would explain why the action is taken against him. however, i still see it as a cover story to a larger conflict between Schneider and GPDSC.

  2. Maggie said

    Yeah, I’m totally out of the loop on this one, but it seems like an awfully big step to take by GPDSC. Especially if it’s an issue of conflicting approaches to running the office.

  3. […] Even worse, I hear that the Council’s valuable time is being spent deciding what to do about DeKalb County Chief Defender Larry Schneider and a racial […]

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