Richard E. "Dick" Lee

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Richard Earl "Dick" Lee

(Louisiana lawyer and judge)

Political party Democrat

Born July 22, 1936
Rapides Parish, Louisiana
Died January 15, 2016
Pineville, Louisiana
Spouse Jackie Markham Lee (married 1991-2016, his death) (not first wife)
Religion United Methodist

Richard Earl Lee, known as Dick Lee (July 22, 1936 – January 15, 2016), was a controversial lawyer and judge from Pineville, Louisiana. Lee was found dead at the age of seventy-nine in his law office from a self-inflicted bullet wound.[1]

Background

One of three children, Lee was the son and brother, respectively, of two members of the Louisiana State Senate, George W. Lee, who served from 1936 to 1940, and George Ray Lee, who died after two years in office in 1966. His mother was the former Alice O'Neal. Richard Lee graduated in 1954 from Bolton High School in Alexandria in 1962 from Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineille, and in 1964 from the Louisiana State University Law School in Baton Rouge. He was a partner in two different law firms and later in solo practice. He was a veteran of the United States Navy and a member of the Methodist Church, the Masonic lodge, and the Shriners. He served for a decade on the Rapides Parish Airport Authority and was briefly an assistant to the late Louisiana Attorney General William J. Guste. He was the Pineville municipal judge for seven years and sat for eleven years on the state Ninth Judicial District Court in Alexandria. He was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, which nominated John Kerry to oppose U.S. President George W. Bush. He was also a member of his parish Democratic Executive Committee.[2]

Lee served for a decade as a member of the Rapides Parish Airport Authority and the chairman for three years. He was a director of the Red River Delta Law Enforcement Authority from 1980 to 2009. He was former board member of the Renaissance Youth Rehabilitaton Home in Alexandria. He was a former chairman of the Rapides Parish chapter of Ducks Unlimited, a former deputy sheriff for Rapides Parish, and in 1991-1992 an assistant state attorney general.[3]

Judicial career

In 1980, as a state court judge, Lee ruled that parents of three white girls could switch their legal custody to friends so that the children could continue enrollment in an all-white public school in rural Buckeye in eastern Rapides Parish. The decision was overruled in federal court. Lee claimed that his ruling was unrelated to race but tested whether a federal court could exert power over family law. The Democrat Lee maintained that he was right in what was called the "Buckeye Three" case, but he mended fences with the U.S. District Judge, Nauman Steele Scott, an Alexandria Republican appointed to the bench in 1970 by U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. Scott died in 2001.[4]

In 1986, Lee ruled that Louisiana Republicans were attempting to strip African Americans from the voting rolls to benefit their candidate for the United States Senate, then U.S. Representative William Henson Moore, III, who lost his race to a Democratic House colleague, John Breaux.[4] The Breaux seat was won in 2004 by Republican David Vitter, who vacated the post after two terms in January 2017.

In a 2002 newspaper interview, Lee said that he would continue his law practice indefinitely: "It's all about helping people. That's what this profession is all about." He was once arrested on a misdemeanor charge of drunkenness, which may have cost him reelection. In 2004, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Lee's license to practice law for violating the rules of professional conduct. He was accused of having harassed another judge with "vile and insulting remarks". As a result, Lee was suspended from practice for six months, but the sentence was lifted after four and a half months.[4]

Lee is survived by his wife of twenty-four years, the former Jackie Markham; sons, Harold, Mark, and Bob Lee, and daughter, Jaime Porter. He is interred at Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville.[2] At the time of his death, Lee was declared the victim of an accidental gunshot wound. An investigation by Pineville police subsequently ruled his death "a self-inflicted injury".[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Melissa Gregory. Police: Pineville attorney Lee died from 'self-inflicted injury'. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on March 21, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Richard E. "Dick" Lee. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on January 18, 2016.
  3. Richard E. "Dick" Lee. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 12, 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Judge from 1980s desegregation case found dead in law office. Ksl.com (January 17, 2016). Retrieved on January 18, 2016.