Montgomery, Alabama, July 10, 2013 – U.W. Clemon, retired chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, is the recipient of the 2013 John H. Pickering Award of Achievement, presented by the Senior Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association.
State Bar President Phillip W. McCallum of Birmingham (McCallum Methvin & Terrell PC) said, “In his career, Judge Clemon has demonstrated outstanding legal ability. He has compiled a distinguished record of service to the profession and his community, resulting in significant contributions to improving access to justice for all.”
Since retiring from the District Court as chief judge, Clemon has been in private practice with the Birmingham firm of White Arnold & Dowd PC and served as a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. He will receive the Pickering award at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco in August.
After graduating from New York’s Columbia Law School in 1968, Clemon returned to Birmingham and practiced civil rights law. He sued legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1969 to desegregate the University of Alabama’s football team and brought employment discrimination cases against large employers in the state.
Clemon became one of the first of two blacks to be elected to the Alabama State Senate since Reconstruction. In his two terms, he opposed Gov. George C. Wallace on various issues, including Wallace’s exclusion of black citizens from state boards and agencies, and the reinstatement of the death penalty.
Under his leadership, the federal court adopted a more juror-friendly and representative jury plan, increased minority presence in the workforce of the court and transitioned to electronic case-filing and management. His ruling in favor of Lilly Ledbetter in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear employment discrimination case was reversed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, leading to the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
The award, which was created in 2007, honors the life and accomplishments of John H. Pickering, an outstanding lawyer who practiced in Washington, DC, and who was involved in a wide variety of pro bono activities and law-related societal issues.
The 17,300-member Alabama State Bar is dedicated to promoting the professional responsibility, competence and satisfaction of its members, improving the administration of justice and increasing public understanding and respect for the law.