Investigation into JeffCo Public Defender after claims of ‘racially hostile’ workplace

Updated: Jan. 23, 2019 at 10:41 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - On Thursday morning, a three-member fact-finding panel is due to investigate claims that the Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office runs what some employees call a “racially hostile” workplace.

Jefferson County Presiding Judge Joseph Boohaker confirms David Luker has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the investigation.

WBRC has obtained a letter signed by several attorneys in the Public Defender’s Office that say on more than one occasion Luker “has used racially hostile language including but not limited to “n****r” when talking about our clients, their families, witnesses, and generally when expressing his displeasure.”

The letter also says Luker has hired other personnel including supervisors with similar views.

The state department of finance, which supervises the Alabama Indigent Defense Board told WBRC that it could not comment on the continuing investigation.

WBRC tried to contact Luker, but we have not been able to speak with him about the allegations.

Boohaker says the investigation will be done by former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cook, a retired private attorney and a state employee who is an experienced investigator. The Public Defender’s office has been notified that anyone seeking to speak to the investigators can do so.

Boohaker says the investigators will submit a report to Alabama Indigent Defense Board Director Christopher Roberts who will forward the report to a five-member advisory including Boohaker and the President of the Birmingham Bar Association. He hopes the report will be available by March 1.

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