Tag: Jefferson County

Zena Stephens Elected 1st Black Female Sheriff in Texas

Zena Stephens, Democratic candidate for Jefferson County Sheriff, is swarmed by supporters offering hugs of congratulations and celebrating her win in Beaumont Tuesday. (Photo by Kim Brent/The Enterprise)
Zena Stephens, Democratic candidate for Jefferson County Sheriff, is swarmed by supporters offering  congratulations and celebrating her win in Beaumont Tuesday. (Photo by Kim Brent/The Enterprise)

article by Liz Teitz via houstonchronicle.com

BEAUMONT – While history was being made with the election of Donald Trump as president, Zena Stephens was making a little of her own in Southeast Texas by becoming the state’s first black female sheriff.

And it took three elections to do it.

In the March primary, Stephens knocked out the incumbent sheriff’s chief deputy, who was the favorite of law enforcement and had significantly outraised Stephens. In May, she bested an African-American constable in a runoff. Then on Tuesday she narrowly defeated a 39-year retired Beaumont police lieutenant to become sheriff of Jefferson County.

According to the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, which tracks the history of the office, Stephens is the first black woman elected sheriff in the state.

After her victory, she acknowledged the significance of her success.

“I think it is important, because I never saw anybody who looked like me in this role, or as a police chief, when I was growing up,” said Stephens. “And so the idea, not just for girls but for any minority, that you can obtain these jobs at this level, I think that’s important. And it’s important for these jobs in law enforcement and any job to reflect the community they serve.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Jefferson-County-elects-Texas-first-black-female-10605106.php

Jefferson County, Alabama Elected 9 Black Women to Become Judges

L to R: Judges Javan Patton, Elisabeth French and Agnes Chappell (photos via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Rahel Gabreyes via huffingtonpost.com

In a great stride for representation Tuesday, nine black women were elected to become judges in majority Democratic Jefferson County, Alabama, The Birmingham Times reported.

The black women who came out on top in the district and circuit courts, Javan Patton, Debra Bennett Winston, Shera Craig Grant, Nakita “Niki” Perryman Blocton, Tamara Harris Johnson, Elisabeth French, Agnes Chappell, Brendette Brown Green and Annetta Verin, are to be sworn in next January.

French, who was re-elected to Jefferson County’s Circuit Court, told The Birmingham Times that she believes her hard work and years of experience helped to propel her to elected office.

“I think the people don’t necessarily just support you just because of your race and gender. I think voters expect more than that. They look at our qualifications and make a decision about who they can trust with the leadership position,” she said.

Tuesday night was a big night for women of color across the states ― not just in local politics, but in federal positions, as well. Three women of colorCatherine Cortez MastoTammy Duckworth and Kamala Harris, were elected to the Senate. Stephanie Murphy and Pramila Jayapal were also elected to the House. Next year, there will be 38 women of color serving in Congress.

To read full article, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nine-black-women-judges-alabama_us_58261b26e4b060adb56e3f54?

Wrongfully Imprisoned Man Anthony Ray Hinton Released from Alabama’s Death Row After 30 Years

Anthony Ray Hinton wipes away tears as he stands outside the Jefferson County Jail in Alabama April 3, 2015, after serving 30 years on death row. (NBC News) 

Anthony Ray Hinton walked out of prison a free man Friday after nearly 30 years on Alabama’s death row. He stepped into the sunshine, praised God and thanked his lawyers, according to CNN.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Petro on Thursday dismissed the case against the 58-year-old man. One day earlier, prosecutors told the judge that they couldn’t link the bullets from the crime scene to Hinton, who always asserted his innocence in the 1985 murders of two men.

“All they had to do was to test the gun,” Hinton exclaimed to reporters, “but when you think you’re high and mighty and you’re above the law, you don’t have to answer to nobody.”

Hinton’s attorneys had long said that their client was another wrongfully convicted black man who faced a death sentence.

“Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice,” said Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Rights Initiative and Hinton’s lead attorney, according to CNN. “I can’t think of a case that more urgently dramatizes the need for reform than what has happened to Anthony Ray Hinton.”

Prosecutors won a conviction even though there were no eyewitnesses, fingerprints or other physical evidence linking Hinton to the murder of two restaurant workers during a robbery.

Bullets at the crime scene had questionable links to a gun found in Hinton’s home. But tests raised doubts about whether the bullets were fired from that gun and, in fact, whether they were all fired from the same weapon.

On appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hinton’s favor, and he was granted a new trial. But the prosecutors struggled to put evidence together to win a conviction in the retrial. Consequently, they filed a motion to drop the charges.

Read more at CNN.

article by Nigel Roberts via theroot.com