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Alabama State Bar Inducts New Members to Lawyers' Hall of Fame

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MONTGOMERY – The Alabama State Bar on Friday inducted five new members into the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame.

“The lawyers we recognize today include heroes of our state, lawyers that paved the way for many others and lawyers who literally gave their lives to improve Alabama,” said Alabama State Bar President Richard J.R. Raleigh, Jr., of Huntsville (Wilmer & Lee, P.A.). “Each of these honorees improved the communities in which they lived, had a profound influence on the rule of law and improved society by pursuing justice.”

The five lawyers inducted into the 2014 Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame include:

  • Walter Lawrence Bragg (1835-1891) – A native of Lowndes County; received early education in county schools and attended Harvard Law School; served as chair of the state Democratic party in 1874; helped post-Reconstruction Democrats regain control of state politics; was chosen in 1876 to serve as National Democratic Executive Committee member; primary organizer of the Alabama State Bar Association and served as its first president in 1879; was an early member of the Alabama Railroad Commission and later appointed by President Grover Cleveland as the first chairman of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1884.
  • George Washington Lovejoy (1859-1933) – Born a slave; received early education in a former slave school and at Tuskegee Institute graduating in 1888; had dream of becoming an attorney and worked at the U. S. Navy Yard in Portsmouth, VA to earn money to read law there under an African-American lawyer; returned to Alabama where he was first admitted to practice in Macon County; moved to Mobile County in 1892 becoming the first African-American lawyer to establish a long-standing practice there; served as one of Liberia’s consuls resident in the United States.
  • Albert Leon Patterson (1894-1954) – Noted Alabama attorney and statesman; admitted to the bar in 1926 and practiced in Phenix City from 1933 until his death; served in the Alabama Senate from 1947 to 1951; a founder of the Russell Betterment Association, an organization to fight corruption in Russell County; successfully sought the Democratic nomination for Attorney General in 1954 on a platform to clean up Phenix City which was then known as the “Wickedest City in America”; assassinated eight days after his nomination with son John Patterson taking his place on the general election ticket and being elected Attorney General; clean-up of crime and corruption in Phenix City and Russell County occurred as a result of his death.
  • Sam C. Pointer, Jr. (1934-2008) – Birmingham native; appointed to the federal bench in 1970 after practicing law in his father’s firm; revered for his brilliance and temperament as a jurist; served 17 years as chief judge for the Northern District of Alabama and in many important capacities in the federal court system; established a national reputation among judges, lawyers and academics during his 30 years on the bench for his ability to handle highly complex cases and multi-district litigation; recipient of numerous national awards recognizing his unparalleled service to the federal judiciary; returned to private practice following his retirement from the bench.
  • Henry Bascom Steagall (1873-1943) – Accomplished lawyer; county solicitor; served as state representative for Dale County; elected to Congress in 1915 where he served until his death; New Deal supporter who sponsored important Depression era legislation including the Banking Act of 1933 (The Glass-Steagall Act) that instituted major changes in the national banking system; fathered the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); helped locate Fort Rucker in Dale County which now serves as the U.S. Army Aviation Center.

The Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 2004, and has since inducted 50 Alabama lawyers including this year’s inductees. Inductees must have a distinguished career in law and each inductee must be deceased at least two years at the time of their selection. In addition, at least one of the inductees must be deceased a minimum of 100 years.

The newly unveiled plaques honoring each inductee are up for display in the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame located on the lower level of the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building.