Prior to the impeachment of Donald Watkins today, the Alabama-based lawyer was linked to a number of high-profile legal cases involving equally important clients, often involving complaints of racial discrimination and prejudice.
Here is an overview of Watkins' long and sometimes controversial history:
Watkins was born September 8, 1948 in Parsons, Kansas, according to an online biography. He then graduated from Alabama State University Laboratory School in 1966, before graduating from Southern Illinois University in 1970. He returned to the state to obtain his law degree from the Faculty of Law of the University of Alabama in 1973, becoming one of the few African American lawyers in the state. 39; State.
Watkins' father, Levi Watkins, was president of the State University of Alabama. The family insisted on education. Watkins' brothers and sisters include Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., the first African-American graduate of Vanderbilt University and, in 1980, the first cardiac surgeon in the country to perform the human implantation of the implantable automatic defibrillator. A sister is a concert pianist; another brother is a retired surgeon.
Watkins made his fame and fortune in law and business.
Some reports put his fortune around $ 1.5 billion, although this figure has not been verified.
Civil Rights Cases
Watkins' first job at law school was with Fred Gray in Montgomery, the same office that represented civil rights icon Rosa Parks in her case against the Montgomery Bus Company. He opened his own office in Birmingham in 1979, while he sat on Montgomery City Council. Later, from 1985 to 1999, Watkins served as special advisor to Richard Arrington Jr., Birmingham's first black mayor.
Clarence Norris, the last known and surviving "Scottsboro Boys", is one of nine young African-Americans who were falsely accused in 1931 of having raped two white girls in Paint Rock, Alabama. Watkins granted Norris a complete and unconditional forgiveness from the state. Other high-profile cases followed: the case of the unjustified death of 1975, involving a black man fatally shot by a Montgomery police officer; In 1991, Auburn University football player Eric Ramsey said he was offered money to play football at school; The 1996 US Judge U.W. Clemons, a case that ended without any charges being brought against the Birmingham Judge.
The Auburn affair was making headlines in this state of sports madness and made Watkins a household name in Alabama. This led to the resignation of Pat Dye, longtime Auburn coach, and to the probation of the school.
Watkins has also successfully represented Arrington as a result of complaints filed by the federal government for public bribery. In 2003, he also represented HealthSouth President Richard Scrushy in a high-profile case involving 85 fraud-related cases. Scrushy walked free and Watkins was nicknamed "The Man Who Saved Richard Scrushy" by Fortune.
Watkins drew the country's attention in the early 2000s on a series of attempts to become the first African-American owner of a Major League Baseball team. He continued the Montreal Expos, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, California Angels and Minnesota Twins, without success.
Watkins is involved in a variety of activities ranging from energy investment companies to technology companies and banks. His main role is President and CEO of Masada Resource Group, a global waste-based fuel development company containing ethanol and mentioned in the indictment.
In 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Watkins and the companies it controls of having swindled professional athletes and other investors for millions of dollars. Charles Barkley, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame, said he has invested more than $ 4 million with the man he once considered his friend.
Watkins denied the allegations.
Watkins is a prolific writer who often writes articles on Facebook and on his website www.donaldwatkins.com. Recently, he called for the police to kill a black man at Riverchase Galleria the night before Thanksgiving.
He is father of four sons and a girl, all adults. A son, Donald Watkins Jr., was indicted alongside his father.