8 months ago

UA law school named for Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. after $26.5M donation

As of Thursday, The University of Alabama School of Law will now be named the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law in recognition of a $26.5 million donation from the prominent business executive and attorney.

Culverhouse’s unprecedented commitment includes a $25 million gift – the largest in the University’s storied 187-year history. The gift will be funded over four years, with more than $11.5 million of the total donation already having been received. The donation also includes a $1.5 million gift Culverhouse made in 2017 to establish the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. Endowed Chair in Constitutional Law.

In a press release, the university noted that to “honor Culverhouse’s impact and generosity, the UA School of Law will now bear his name, becoming the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law at The University of Alabama.”

“This transformative gift by Hugh Culverhouse leaves an indelible mark on UA’s School of Law and will greatly impact our law students for generations to come,” University of Alabama President Stuart R. Bell said. “We are particularly grateful for Hugh’s decision to fund this gift with an accelerated timetable. That certainly enhances the impact of the gift. We deeply appreciate Hugh’s ongoing commitment to The University of Alabama.”

Culverhouse, in a statement, praised the world-class law school and emphasized his passion for continuing its impact on generations of law students to come.

“The University of Alabama law school is one of the finest in the country,” Culverhouse said. “It is my hope this gift helps bright and talented young people pursuing a career in the law reach their full potential. Eliza and I are passionate about students and can think of no better investment than helping the students at the UA School of Law.”

Culverhouse continued, “Additionally, we hope our giving inspires others to support the University. There is no better investment than in the future of our young people.”

His gift will establish the Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law Endowment for Excellence and “will enable the law school to develop innovative programming, expand its physical presence, increase scholarship support for students, provide additional educational and career opportunities for students and support a 21st century law library,” according to Dr. Mark E. Brandon, dean of the law school.

“I am ever grateful for Mr. Culverhouse’s friendship with the School of Law and grateful that he has seen fit to invest in our future,” Brandon added.

One of America’s leading public law schools and consistently ranked as one of the best values in legal education, the now-Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law at The University of Alabama offers a challenging curriculum with over 150 electives, several dual enrollment opportunities, Master of Laws degrees, and a J.S.D, according to the university. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 6.3:1, the law school “offers students a rigorous, hands-on learning experience, with strong student engagement in clinical programs, legal journals, moot court teams and trial advocacy.”

Known for his generous philanthropic efforts, including his longtime support of UA and his creative approach of issuing challenge gifts, Culverhouse has, along with his wife, Eliza, now cumulatively committed more than $35 million to UA over the past decade.

Starting in 2015, Culverhouse donated $250,000 to endow a women’s golf scholarship in honor of his mother, Joy McCann Culverhouse, who starred as a UA golfer in the early 1940s. In total, he and his wife have contributed approximately $2.25 million to endow women’s golf scholarships at the Capstone.

The Culverhouses, back in 2012, donated $1 million to UA to establish the Hugh F. and Eliza Culverhouse Scholarship to support high-achieving students with financial need. Since then, they have contributed an additional $5.3 million to the renowned UA Culverhouse College of Business, which is named after Culverhouse’s father, Hugh Culverhouse Sr.

Culverhouse also contributed $147,000 to Athletics in 2000 to fund an endowment named in honor of former football player Derrick Thomas for student scholarships.

A resident of Coral Gables, Florida, Culverhouse is the CEO and owner of Palmer Ranch Holdings – a planned community encompassing some 10,000 acres in Sarasota County. He is also the principal in Culverhouse Limited Partnerships with investents in real estate, securities and hedge funds.

Culverhouse earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida in 1971, an MBA in corporate finance from New York University in 1972 and a law degree from the University of Florida law school in 1974 – the same year he became a CPA in Florida. He began his legal career in 1975, serving as a trial attorney for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement and then as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the United States Department of Justice. He then served in private law practice in Florida from 1979 to 1999. Culverhouse has been admitted to practice in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, the 5th and 11th Circuit Courts and is a member of the Florida Bar.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 mins ago

House approves wine shipment legislation

The Alabama House of Representatives has passed legislation allowing residents to purchase wine and have it shipped directly to their house.

The bill by Republican Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) would allow licensed wine manufacturers to obtain a permit to deliver limited quantities of wine directly to Alabamians.

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The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board does not currently allow such shipments.

The bill passed 77-11. It now heads to the Senate.

Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) jokingly shouted during Thursday’s debate, “What’s wrong with the wine we got now?”

The line was a reference to former Rep. Alvin Holmes who famously asked in a 2008 debate: “What’s wrong with the beer we got? I mean the beer we got drank pretty good, don’t it?”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Episode 11: Most hated Auburn foes

DrunkAubie talks about what’s going on in the world of Auburn since episode 10: QB Malik Willis entering the transfer portal, a WR grad transfer, Auburn’s football Twitter account gets suspended before and more!

DrunkAubie then discusses some of Auburn’s biggest individual foes.

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41 mins ago

Funeral set for Auburn police officer killed by gunman

A police officer killed by a gunman in Alabama is being honored with a funeral at the 9,100-seat Auburn Arena.

The ceremony for Auburn police officer William Buechner is being held Friday afternoon.

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City offices are closed for the day, and residents are being asked to line a street to honor the veteran officer as the funeral procession travels from the arena to the cemetery where he will be buried.

Buechner was shot to death and two other officers wounded as police answered a call about a domestic disturbance in a mobile home park on Sunday night.

A man who led an Alabama National Guard fire team is charged with capital murder and other offenses.

The officer is survived by his wife and two children.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

State Rep. Matt Fridy: Legislature’s general fund lottery proposal would have been rejected by voters

Would voters have approved a lottery with proceeds steered to the state’s general fund over its education trust fund?

We may never know given such a proposal to do just that passed the Alabama Senate this year but was not considered by the Alabama House of Representatives. And when a lottery proposal with 25% of proceeds dedicated to the education trust fund, it still failed to pass the House.

One of those voting against it in the House was State Rep. Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo). He argued that even if the legislature had gotten enough support to get the three-fifths majority required to send a constitutional amendment for a lottery to be considered by voters on an election ballot, voters likely would have rejected it if proceeds were steered to the general fund.

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“I really haven’t heard from very many other people,” Fridy said on Thursday’s “The Jeff Poor Show” on Huntsville radio’s WVNN. “Those that I have heard from, when I explained that this is not an education lottery — this is a general fund lottery for the legislators to spend on the general fund however they want to, it’s nearly unanimous that people tell me, ‘Well, I’m glad you voted no on that because I wouldn’t want that kind of lottery.'”

“I don’t see the reason for putting a lottery out there for a vote when all the polls show us that the lottery that’s being proposed is going to be voted down,” he added. “There’s no reason to waste everybody’s time on a form of a lottery that the voters are going to reject. If we’re going to come with a lottery, it’s going to be one that we feel like the people are going to pass. Otherwise, we’re just wasting everybody’s time, and we’re wasting the taxpayer’s money.”

The Shelby County Republican prefaced his remarks by saying polling he had seen wasn’t tied to this specific proposal but in general.

“I don’t think it would have,” he said. “Now, I didn’t see any specific polling data for this specific lottery proposal at this specific time. But really, I’ve seen polling over the last year with regard to the lottery that shows the kind of lottery people want to vote for is an education lottery, not a general fund lottery.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

2 hours ago

Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles’ failure leads to max settlement allowed under state law

The State of Alabama will pay the maximum damages allowed under state law after the Board of Pardons and Paroles allegedly wrongfully paroled and failed to supervise a career criminal.

The state will pay the maximum possible settlement award, $1 million, to the families of Marie Martin, Colton Lee and Martha Reliford — the three north Alabama victims Jimmy O’Neal Spencer has been charged with murdering after his release in late 2017.

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Prior to his release and subsequent alleged murder spree, Spencer had lived a life of crime stretching across three decades, beginning in 1984 at the age of 19. He was convicted and imprisoned for numerous serious property and violent crimes, as well as for numerous disciplinary infractions in prison and for several successful escapes from prison.

On two separate occasions, Spencer was sentenced to life imprisonment. In one memorable case, he attempted to burglarize an occupied home and, refusing to retreat, had to be shot by the homeowner.

Despite all of this, Spencer was granted parole by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles on November 2, 2017.

Spencer was at that time released to a homeless shelter in Birmingham where he was supposed to remain for six months. However, after only three weeks, he left.

Spencer then traveled to Guntersville, where he had several run-ins with law enforcement and was charged for multiple violations of the law, including: traffic offenses, possession of drug paraphernalia, attempting to elude police, resisting arrest and illegal possession of a firearm.

Nonetheless, his parole was not revoked — which seemingly led to three innocent lives being taken.

Less than six months after being released, in July 2018, Spencer allegedly murdered Reliford through blunt-force trauma to her head. Her body was discovered only after the bodies of Martin and her seven-year-old grandson, Lee, were found in a nearby home. They also had been brutally murdered.

Spencer was charged in the three deaths with capital murder in August 2018. He is currently awaiting trial in the Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery. The attorney general’s office noted that defendants in criminal cases are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Attorney General Marshall recused himself and was not a part of the settlement negotiations, having previously known two of the victims. He released a statement after the settlement was finalized.

Marshall said, “Marie Martin, Colton Lee and Martha Reliford died horrifically and senselessly at the hands of a monster—Jimmy O’Neal Spencer.”

“Ms. Reliford and Mrs. Martin, whom I knew personally, have been on my mind since July,” the attorney general continued. “Every time I think of what they suffered through, I get angry. I am angry, certainly at Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, but I am also angry that a process designed to protect the public from deviant criminals like Spencer utterly failed them, as well as little Colton.”

The settlement comes as crucial legislation is pending in the Alabama Legislature to reform the Board of Pardons and Paroles to ensure this type of avoidable case never happens again.

That legislation sponsored by State Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper), HB 380, has passed the House but is yet to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislature is expected to wrap up its 2019 regular session next week.

Marshall’s office crafted the bill and has been a vocal advocate for its passage, as has Governor Kay Ivey.

“Sadly, we know that these victims aren’t the only ones that have been failed by our broken system of pardons and paroles, and that is why I continue to advocate for much-needed legislative reforms,” Marshall concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn