Thursday, July 15, 2004

Nashville Scene profiles advocate Jerry Gonzalez

Nashville Scene"Impassioned by an abiding distrust of authority, Gonzalez now serves as the lead lawyer in two of the most important cases in Tennessee. In August 2002, he filed the first of several lawsuits alleging that Wilson County prison guards were terrorizing inmates, breaking jaws and shooting them with stun guns. Already, four guards have pled guilty to felonies. Initially, Wilson County officials blithely dismissed Gonzalez's claims of a jail gone wild. But now the FBI is investigating the facility and may be preparing serious civil rights charges against one of the jail's former guards. Additional pleas are also expected. At the request of the U.S. Justice Department, a federal court has stayed all legal proceedings until the investigation is over. When it's all said and done, the Wilson County Jail will make Abu Ghraib look like the Opryland Hotel."

"Meanwhile, in a case where the abuse is perhaps less obvious, but no less insidious, Gonzalez filed a challenge this week to Gov. Phil Bredesen's new law that restricts aliens, even legal ones, from obtaining driver's licenses. An avid spokesperson for Hispanic rights, Gonzalez believes Tennessee discriminates against aliens who are here legally - and these are mostly Latino - for no apparent reason."

"'I think they're hypocrites, and they have a bug up their ass about illegal immigrants,' he says matter-of-factly. 'I'm not advocating illegal immigration. I'm advocating that the state of Tennessee should stay the heck out of the immigration business because they don't have a clue.'"

Nashville Scene

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