Alton H. Maddox, Jr.

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Alton Henry Maddox, Jr. (born 1945) is an African-American lawyer who was involved in several publicized cases in the 1980s before his law license was indefinitely suspended in 1990 by the New York State Supreme Court.


Maddox was born in Newnan, Georgia. He began practicing law in 1976, after graduating from Howard University and Boston College Law School.[1]


Maddox represented several proven and alleged crime victims including the family of Michael Stewart, a Brooklyn man who died while in custody of the New York City Transit Police.[citation needed] Six officers were indicted for the death; all were found not guilty. Rudy Giuliani, then US Attorney in Manhattan, found insufficient evidence to warrant a federal grand jury investigation. A Metropolitan Transportation Authority report later faulted police for use of excessive force.[2]

He was the attorney for Cedric Sandiford and the family of manslaughter victim Michael Griffith in the Howard Beach incident. Maddox and other lawyers demanded a special prosecutor be appointed to the case, and the request was eventually granted.[3] Maddox accused the New York City Police Department and Commissioner Benjamin Ward of a cover-up.[4]

He represented Tawana Brawley during the period of her rape allegations. Maddox and two other Brawley advisers accused Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones of abducting and raping Brawley. A grand jury exonerated Pagones and suggested that Brawley had concocted a hoax. Pagones sued Brawley and the three advisers for $395 million for twenty two alleged defamatory statements. A jury awarded Pagones a total of $345,000 in damages, with Maddox being found liable for $95,000 for two defamatory statements.[5]

The family of murder victim Yusuf Hawkins in the Bensonhurst incident was also one of Maddox's clients.[citation needed]

Maddox has represented many criminal defendants, including Michael Briscoe, arrested during the investigation into the rape of the Central Park jogger. Briscoe was never indicted in that case but pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault for a confrontation that occurred earlier that night.[6][not in citation given]

In 1984, Maddox was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice after a courtroom melee in which he and his client, convicted murderer Willie Bosket, battled with court officers.[7]

Maddox was the defense lawyer for one of the two men hired by Marla Hanson's landlord to mutilate and disfigure her. Maddox challenged Hanson's character racially and sexually during the trial.[8][9] This led New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind to ask a grievance committee "to investigate the professional behavior of Mr. Maddox."[9] Maddox responded, "It's my job to walk Mr. Bowman out of this courthouse."[9] Law professor Stephen Gillers of New York University Law School said, "There's nothing unethical about what he is reported to have done." Gillers, an authority on legal ethics, also stated that the role of the defense attorney is "to behave in a manner that is most likely to accomplish the client's goal without violating the ethical rules or the law, regardless of what anyone else may think of the good taste of the lawyer's conduct." [9]

Maddox also represented Al Sharpton when Sharpton faced a 67-count indictment alleging fraud and theft. Sharpton was acquitted of all charges.[10]

Disciplinary actions

In 1990, Maddox was indefinitely suspended by the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn after failing to appear before a disciplinary hearing to answer allegations regarding his conduct in the Brawley case.[11]

In 1996, Maddox was ordered to pay New York State $1,000 in legal costs for filing a false complaint of racial bias. He had alleged that he had had to apply to represent an indigent defendant in a murder case, while two lawyers who were white had been appointed to represent the other defendant in the case without having to apply. The state showed evidence that in fact, the two lawyers had applied and Maddox had filed a discrimination suit instead of going through the applications process. Michael Mukasey, at that time a Federal judge, ordered Maddox to pay New York State the legal costs it had incurred defending against the suit.[12]

The following year, in 1997, Maddox and his group, the United African Movement, were fined $10,000 by New York City's Commission on Human Rights after they denied a white teacher access to a speech by Cornel West on the basis of her race.[13]

Other activities

Maddox is a former Director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers Juvenile Defense Project.[14] He is also the founder of the Center for Law & Social Justice at Medgar Evers College and co-sponsored the 1983 Congressional hearings on Police Brutality in New York City. A 2006 resolution passed by the Council of the City of New York supported Maddox's reinstatement, but the New York State Attorney General's office has not acted on this request.[15]

Maddox often contributes to publications such as Amsterdam News and is a frequent guest on WLIB radio's Sharp Talk program, hosted by Sharpton. He has also given speeches at several colleges and rallies. His 1995 speech prior to the Million Man March was criticized by commentators and the Anti-Defamation League for its support of a Louis Farrakhan quote characterizing Jews as "bloodsuckers".[16][17]


  1. [1]
  2. Daley, Suzanne (January 24, 1987). "New Study Faults Police In '83 Death". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Purdum, Todd S. (January 2, 1987). "Lawyers Assert Queens Victims Would Aid U.S". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Barron, James (January 9, 1987). "Ward Renews Attack on Lawyer in Beating Case". New York Times. p. B5. Retrieved December 20, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Adviser in Tawana Brawley Case Pays Off Defamation Award". November 7, 2001.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Sullivan, Ronald (March 17, 1990). "3 Youths Facing Trial Together In Jogger Case". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Melee in Court Ends With Lawyer's Arrest". July 12, 1984.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. James, George (May 12, 1987). "Man Given 5-To-15-Year Term In Model's Slashing". New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Shipp, E. E. (April 21, 1987). "Defense Lawyers' Tactics: Unfair Or Just Aggressive?". New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. McQuiston, John T. (July 3, 1990). "After 6 Hours, Jury Acquits Sharpton of All Charges". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Lubasch, Arnold (May 22, 1990). "Court suspends Maddox for refusal to testify at grievance hearing". New York Times. p. B1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. McFadden, Robert (December 25, 1988). "Maddox is Ordered to Pay $1,000 For Filing a False Bias Complaint". New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Media Advisory[dead link]
  14. Hevesi, Dennis (December 27, 1986). "Lawyer In Queens Case Is Known For Major Trials". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Res[dead link]
  16. Speaker Spews Slurs at Rally, Daily News
  17. ADL Fact Finding Report: The Other Face of Farrakhan: A Hate-Filled Prelude to the Million Man March, Anti-Defamation League