PINEVILLE, La. (AP) — A judge who made national headlines in the 1980s for defying a federal desegregation order has been found dead in his law office.
Pineville police say in a news release that the 83-year-old attorney, Richard "Dick" Lee, apparently died Friday from an accidental bullet wound, the Town Talk reported (http://townta.lk/1WkFYfB). Police say the investigation is continuing.
In 1980, Lee ruled that parents of three white girls could transfer their custody to friends so the girls could stay at an all-white school. Federal courts overruled him.
Lee said his "Buckeye Three" rulings were not about race, but about whether federal courts have any say over family law.
In a 1986 case about purging voter rolls, he ruled that state Republicans were illegally trying to shed black voters during a U.S. Senate race.
Lee told the Town Talk in 2002 that he planned to keep working as an attorney as long as he could.
"It's all about helping people. That's what this profession is all about," he said.
He said he got letters of support from around the world during the "Buckeye Three" case. He said he always remained convinced that he was correct, and also remained friends with the federal judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Nauman Scott.
He sometimes ran afoul of his profession.
He went into rehabilitation after being arrested on misdemeanor charges while drunk in Alexandria. He stayed in office, but lost his next judicial election.
The Louisiana Supreme Court suspended him in 2004, for violating the rules of professional conduct by, among other things, improperly sending papers related to a case to a judge after the case was closed, and later arguing with and making "extremely vile and insulting remarks" to the judge.
He was suspended for six months, with all but 45 days deferred.
Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com