- The Washington Times - Monday, July 15, 2002

DALLAS An appeals court has overturned the 2000 federal bribery conviction of Dallas' most famous civil rights leader, 77-year-old Al Lipscomb and whether the government should try to convict him again has become a political and racial issue.
In April 2000 Mr. Lipscomb was found guilty on 65 counts of public bribery for receiving more than $75,000 from the owner of the city's largest taxicab firm while he was a city councilman promoting ordinances that helped the company. He was assessed 41 months of home confinement.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Friday overturned the conviction, saying the trial court judge erred in moving the site of the trial from Dallas to Amarillo despite the fact neither the prosecution nor the defense asked for a change of venue.
The court did not dispute the facts entered into evidence at the trial.
In fact, U.S. District Judge John M. Duhe Jr., wrote, "Lipscomb energetically used many of the tools at the disposal of a council member his vote, his oversight authority, his agenda-setting powers and his other parliamentary privileges to support policies favorable to Yellow Cab, even though these policies conflicted with his previous positions."
Mr. Lipscomb, ailing from various diseases, has been confined to his home the past 27 months, fitted with a monitoring device that pinpointed his location. He has been allowed to leave the confines only to attend funerals or church.
At the time of Mr. Lipscomb's arrest and trial, many minority leaders decried the government's role, claiming the charges were false and the investigation itself a racist injustice.
That outcry continued as an all-white jury was picked in Amarillo but seemed tempered somewhat after the prosecution made its case against Mr. Lipscomb.
The prosecution's evidence in the case seemed voluminous that Mr. Lipscomb took money in an envelope, $1,000 a month for several years while voting on the council in favor of ordinances benefiting Yellow Cab and Floyd Richards, its president. Mr. Richards was the government's main witness, outlining the payments.


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