Attorneys debate fines for covered Confederate monument in Linn Park

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Attorneys for the city of Birmingham and the attorney general's office were squaring off in court Friday over the confederate memorial in Linn Park.

Last August, then-Birmingham mayor William Bell ordered the confederate memorial covered up by plywood.

In Jefferson County Circuit Court on Friday, attorneys for the city argued this does not violate the Memorial Preservation Act. Attorneys for the attorney general's office disagreed.

Alabama defense attorney Roger Appell says after looking at the state law, this may be a difficult case for Birmingham to win.

"The statute is very clear. Very distinct as to what is can and what can not be done, and setting up a barrier I don't think can be done to override the statute," Appell said.

Under the law, violators could be hit with a daily $25,000 fine. Taking the number of days the statue in Linn Park has been covered, that's about $6 million for Birmingham. Both sides in court admitted there is some ambiguity in the law over fines. Attorneys for the AG said they will leave it up to the judge to decide.

"If you willfully violate statute I think that will get a fine. I don't think the city willfully violated. I think they have some good faith arguments here," Appell said.

One possible hope for Birmingham, Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said in court, is the distinction between allowing possible changes to monuments less than 40 years old verses not allowing changes to those over 40 could be a constitutional question that may cast doubt over the preservation act.

Both sides will have to file additional legal briefs over the next month and half. After that Graffeo will start to work on a judgement to decide the fate of the confederate monument.

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