Public Defender Suspended for Using N-Word

Bill Rankin, David Simpson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 4, 2008

The state’s public defender council voted Friday to place longtime DeKalb County public defender Larry Schneider on administrative leave pending an investigation related to Schneider’s use of a racial slur in a meeting.

The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council cited an unspecified allegation about Schneider’s conduct at a Dec. 7 meeting with council staff. Schneider said in an interview he told a story at the meeting about overhearing a DeKalb judge use a slur shortly before Schneider was appointed public defender in 1984.

The slur was the “n-word,” and Schneider acknowledged he used it .

“I did say the word . . . It was a story quoting a Superior Court judge in 1984 and was to illustrate my familiarity with racial bias in the court system,” Schneider said.

Schneider, who is white, said he told the story while pressing council staff to give him “race and sex data on our clients so that I could analyze them for evidence of racial bias.”

He said he has told the same story in public oral history sessions without incident.

Schneider said he was not informed of the complaint against him until DeKalb Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott, a member of the public defender council, called him Thursday and told him he was offended by the comments.

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Scott offered the motion Friday which found probable cause to seek Schneider’s removal. The council’s staff recused itself from the investigation. A special master will be appointed to conduct a hearing and then make a recommendation to the council, which will make a final decision on whether to remove Schneider from office.

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