Chambliss Wants Hearing

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Attorney Alvin Chambliss represents plaintiffs in Mississippi's desegregation case who are dissatisfied with the state's proposed settlement.

Chambliss asked the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to schedule a hearing on the plaintiffs' demands.

Chambliss formerly represented plaintiffs in the case for more than 20 years. He now represents Lillie Ayers, the widow of the man who filed the lawsuit, along with some professors and alumni.

The group says the settlement is unfair and far short of what the late Jake Ayers, Sr., desired.

The college desegregation case originated in 1975 when Jake Ayers sued the state, accusing Mississippi of neglecting its black universities for decades.

A federal judge signed the $503 million settlement of the case in February 2002, a month after the Mississippi Legislature pledged to fulfill its requirements.

Assistant higher education commissioner, Pam Smith, said College Board attorneys have until Mar. 26 to reply to Chambliss' briefs.
Chambliss would then have time to respond to the state.

Smith said the board's attorneys believe it could be mid-April before the Fifth Circuit decides whether to hold a hearing.

In his brief, Chambliss said plaintiffs want a pharmacy school, a law school and engineering school established at Jackson State University, among other things.