White supremacist makes case before appeals court panel
Copley News Service, Oct. 31, 2002
By MIKE RAMSEY
CHICAGO – White supremacist World Church of the Creator, passed the Illinois State Bar examination in 1998. The Committee on Character and Fitness, however, said his views were inconsistent with professional standards for lawyers.
Hale received due process before his license application was denied, attorneys for the high court and the committee told the appellate judges.
Still, Appellate Judge Diane Wood noted there was a “disturbing lack of transparency” in the deliberations about Hale.
“Today, Mr. Hale. Tomorrow, it could be a member of a fringe Islamic extremist group,” she said. “The idea of it all happening behind closed doors … is troubling to me.”
In response, attorney Marc Martin cited a public evidentiary hearing in 1999 in which Hale was allowed to counter allegations against his character. Among the witnesses testifying on behalf of Hale was Smith, who eventually went on a shooting spree, Martin noted.
“This case is about whether (Hale) met his burden of proof,” Martin said. “He did not.”
The 21-year-old Smith, a member of Hale’s church, reportedly was upset that Hale’s law license was denied. During the July Fourth weekend, he embarked on a three-day rampage in Illinois and Indiana that killed two minorities and injured nine others, including a Springfield man. Smith killed himself as police closed in on him.
Hale was not implicated in the crimes.
“I have great objection to Mr. Martin bringing it up,” Hale told reporters after the hearing. “It was obviously an attempt to prejudice the court. Guilt by association is not the law.”
Also attending Wednesday’s appeal hearing was Hale’s father, retired East Peoria policeman Russell Hale. Matt Hale lives at his father’s home and bases his organization there.
“I believe he has a right to feel however he wants to feel,” Russell Hale said when asked about his son’s views. “I don’t think he should not be allowed to have a law license because of his beliefs – to me, that’s wrong.”
It wasn’t known how soon the federal appeals court will issue an opinion in Hale’s case.
Hale is running for a seat on the East Peoria City Council. It is his second attempt.