Odds and Ends: Representing the Invisible Man

The Times had two interesting profiles the other week that are worth reading.  One is on Lloyd Gaines, a litigant in a Supreme Court case that was a precursor to Brown v. Board of Education.  Here is how it begins:

Lloyd Gaines was moody that winter of 1939, acting not at all like a man who had just triumphed in one of the biggest Supreme Court cases in decades. And oddly, even though it was raining and the sidewalks of Chicago were clogged with slush, he felt a need to buy postage stamps one night.

Or so he told a friend just before he left his apartment house on March 19, 1939, never to be seen again. Had he not vanished at 28, Lloyd Gaines might be in the pantheon of civil rights history with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and other giants whose names will be invoked at the centennial convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which started this weekend in Manhattan.

Instead, Mr. Gaines has been consigned to one of history’s side rooms, his name recalled mainly by legal scholars and relatives, like Tracy Berry, an assistant United States attorney in St. Louis whose grandmother was Mr. Gaines’s sister.

“He was taken away and more than likely killed,” Ms. Berry said when asked to speculate on his fate. She said Mr. Gaines was known in family lore as “a caring, loving brother and son” who would not have chosen to disappear or commit suicide, despite the pressure he was under.

The full story can be read here.

The other profile deals with Ramon J. Jimenez, an attorney in the Bronx who like Sonia Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican descent and a graduate of Harvard Law School.  Instead of going the route of prosecutor, Big Law attorney, and federal judge, however, Mr Jimenez returned to his working class roots, setting up shop in the Bronx as a solo practitioner.  The articles has this description:

For more than 30 years, Mr. Jimenez has been a South Bronx litigator and agitator, representing low-income families, injured workers, community groups and others in the poorest Congressional district in the country. Many of the cases he takes on pro bono. In recent years, he has earned about $40,000 a year.

Mr. Jimenez has been an outspoken critic of Bronx Democratic political leaders. He has sued the city, federal housing officials, landlords and labor leaders. On Tuesday, as Judge Sotomayor answered questions from senators about her “wise Latina” comment, the right to bear arms and the 14th Amendment, Mr. Jimenez was preparing for a meeting later in the evening with black and Latino workers at Woodlawn Cemetery who say they are being discriminated against.

The full profile on Mr. Jimenez can be found here.

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