The Columbus Dispatch, July 27
Racist legal documents are part of this nation’s shameful past, and it is easy to understand the shock and revulsion of property buyers confronted with a trail of old deeds that restrict ownership by blacks, Jews or certain immigrants. But a Cincinnati attorney’s solution to make historical documents comply with modern law is neither legal nor practical— and perhaps, not desirable.
Zachary Gottesman this month filed a lawsuit in federal court to force all 88 Ohio county recorders to strip out the racist restrictions from historical records. The 1968 Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate, so new deeds issued for new property transactions can’t have these objectionable restrictions. But he said county recorders violate the law when they provide certified copies of earlier documents involving the property’s history that contain these covenants.
Gottesman’s quest is problematic on several fronts. It would require county recorders to alter legal documents— public records, which they can’t do absent an act by the General Assembly. It would require recorders to make their own interpretation of what’s offensive as they redact documents. And it would consume untold hours and enormous sums of money.
As Franklin County Auditor Terry J. Brown noted, “This isn’t a job you could turn over to an intern.”
The Salem News, July 29
On April 12, 2015, Baltimore, Maryland, police arrested 25-year-old Freddie Gray on a charge of possessing an illegal switchblade knife. He was placed into the back of a police van, where he fell into a coma. He died in a hospital seven days later, of injuries to his spinal cord.
Some in the community said Gray died from the mistreatment by police. The fact he was a young black man may have played a part in his death, some said.
Baltimore Prosecuting Attorney Marilyn Mosby agreed immediately with that assessment, saying she would bring the police officers involved to justice. She filed charges against them quickly.
A grand jury indicted the officers, but that was the last of Mosby’s successes. One officer’s trial ended in a mistrial. Three others were acquitted.
This week, Mosby dropped charges against the two other officers. After doing so, she held a press conference to lay blame for the fact not a single officer was convicted.
Police did not investigate the case properly, Mosby said. The judge would not have convicted the officers, she said. The law needs to be changed, she added…