In a final 15-page report to Southern Company’s institutional investors and Wall Street analysts sent 24 hours before their annual shareholders meeting, we summarized:
- Southern Company must immediately suspend its relationship with the embattled law firm Balch & Bingham until the firm conducts a top-to-bottom review of the firm, settles the horrific Newsome Conspiracy Case, and apologizes to the African-American community in North Birmingham.
- The Newsome Conspiracy Case exemplifies some of the worst legal conduct including alleged criminal obstruction of justice and alleged alteration of evidence. Balch & Bingham’s alleged pattern of behavior in the Newsome case, including the creation of a secretive Star Chamber, exemplifies the manipulation of the legal system and alleged blatant miscarriage of justice.
- Southern Company has an alter-ego, sister-wife relationship with Balch & Bingham, where two partners were indicted in September in an alleged $360,000 bribery scheme to suppress and disenfranchise African-Americans in North Birmingham from having their toxic and contaminated property tested by the EPA.
- Balch & Bingham was also advising and providing legal services to a limestone quarry company that allegedly engaged in a “whites-only” land grab in a historically African-American area of Vincent, Alabama. The company was also allegedly considering moving historic slave graves according to local news reports.
- One of Balch & Bingham’s indicted partners dispatched an unconscionable letter to a health advocacy group and public charity in 2014 demanding a list of their financial supporters. Using tactics reminiscent of the 1960’s when segregationists and other racists demanded lists of supporters from the NAACP and other Civil Rights organizations to intimidate and instill fear in those supporters, Balch & Bingham should have known better: public charities have no obligation to provide lists of their supporters.
- Southern Company is one of Balch & Bingham top clients providing millions in attorney fees. Southern Company’s Compliance Policies clearly state that third-party vendors like Balch & Bingham must engage with “honesty, integrity, fairness and a commitment to legal compliance.” Balch & Bingham has failed that policy.
As a courtesy, we sent our report to Tom Fanning, the CEO of Southern Company who called us in November.