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Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

Local Attorney In Federal Spotlight Lawyer Duard Bradshaw Is President Of Hispanic National Bar Association

By Carl Chancellor

April 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Akron Beacon Journal (OH). All rights reserved. 

For months, Barberton attorney Duard Bradshaw has been a hot media commodity, sought after by national newspapers, magazines and television news shows.

Bradshaw, a partner in the Akron law firm of Roderick Linton, is quoted repeatedly in stories about the contentious confirmation hearings of Miguel Estrada, a conservative Hispanic lawyer who has been nominated by President Bush for a federal judgeship.

That's why Bradshaw finds it more than a bit ironic that he has been able to maintain such a low profile in and around Akron.

Not that Bradshaw, 59, who concentrates on corporate and commercial litigation and immigration law, isn't active on the local legal scene.

Bradshaw is a longtime member of the Akron Bar Association and the Akron Community Foundation, along with past affiliation with Edwin Shaw Hospital, Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Barberton YMCA and other organizations.

However, it is Bradshaw's current role as president of the Hispanic National Bar Association that has placed him in the middle of the Estrada nomination flap.

Bradshaw, sitting in his 15th- floor office in One Cascade Plaza, acknowledged that several leading Hispanic and Latino individuals and groups are adamantly opposed to Estrada's nomination. He said that despite Estrada's heritage -- he was born in Honduras -- those who oppose his nomination to the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia don't view him as one who understands the Hispanic experience.

However, the Hispanic National Bar Association isn't one of those groups.

``We determined that he was in fact qualified for the D.C. Court of Appeals,'' Bradshaw said. He said Estrada was approved by his organization, even though Estrada has never joined the group, which represents more than 25,000 Hispanic lawyers, judges, law professors and law students in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Not a `joiner'

Bradshaw said that when Estrada was asked why he hadn't joined the organization, the nominee said he was not a ``joiner.''

``He said he liked to be a doer,'' said Bradshaw, explaining that Estrada preferred to be involved with organizations in which he played an active role and was not merely a member.

``So I welcomed him to do more with us,'' Bradshaw said, adding that Estrada has yet to accept the invitation.

While Bradshaw certainly understands the political importance of Estrada's nomination -- Bradshaw said that the D.C. Court of Appeals is seen as the second-highest court in the nation and a steppingstone to the Supreme Court -- he is personally dismayed by the ``divisive atmosphere'' surrounding Estrada's nomination.

In a letter to HNBA members, Bradshaw called the ``hostility'' within the Hispanic community engendered by the Estrada nomination ``worrisome for the future of our community.''

Bradshaw said he is anxious for this period of ``disunity'' to pass so that ``our community leaders will again speak with one voice.''

Forceful influence

The voice that has spoken the loudest in Bradshaw's life is easily that of his mother -- Iva Maria.

``My mother was a forceful woman,'' said Bradshaw, a smile lighting his eyes.

Bradshaw was born in Panama while his American father was stationed there during World War II. His father returned to the United States when Bradshaw was still a small boy and the couple eventually divorced.

``I only saw my father once when I was 5,'' noted Bradshaw. But he said his mother, who died last year, was determined that her two sons would be professionals.

``My brother became a doctor,'' Bradshaw said. That older brother, Rene, lives in Panama City, Panama.

Bradshaw explained that before deciding to pursue medicine at his mother's urging, his brother had won a scholarship to a South American military high school. When it was his time to attend high school, Bradshaw wanted to go to a military school as well. He said he looked in the back of an atlas at a listing of military schools and decided he wanted to attend Carlisle Military School in South Carolina.

When he left for Carlisle, his mother also decided to emigrate to the United States. He headed to South Carolina and she went to Washington, D.C., to find employment.

``She was offered two interviews for teaching positions -- one in Barberton, Ohio, and the other in Oregon. Since Ohio was closer (to D.C.), she went there.''

His mother, who taught science in Panama, was hired by the Barberton public schools to teach biology and Spanish.She retired from the Barberton schools in 1978.

After finishing high school, Bradshaw moved from South Carolina and found a full-time job in Washington, D.C. Working during the day, he attended college at night.

``My mother said I needed to go to college full time, so she told me to come to Barberton,'' recalled Bradshaw, who has been married to his wife, Helen, since 1966 and is a father of four. Once here, he enrolled at Kent State University.

He would eventually earn a law degree from the University of Akron -- in 1972 -- but that would come after serving in the Air Force for four years, including a tour of duty in Vietnam.

``I became the first lawyer in our family,'' he said. That is a decision he has never regretted.

``I love dealing with people. I love to talk and to listen.''

Bradshaw says lawyering allows plenty of opportunity to do just that.

But what excites him most about law is that it allows him the opportunity to correct injustices.

``It gives you a chance to make things right,'' he said. Specifically, he noted his work with immigrants, in which he uses his skills to ``navigate the bureaucratic minefield'' to help individuals eventually become citizens.

Bradshaw is also proud of his work in juvenile court matters, often done pro bono for poor families, in which his goal is to reunite children with their parents. ``I love playing a role in unifying families,'' he said.

Lack of role models

While Bradshaw has enjoyed practicing law in Akron, doing so, at least initially, meant not having many Hispanic role models in the profession locally.

Bradshaw said he sometimes ``felt something was missing.'' Then he got a letter. The year was 1987.

``I got this flier from an organization I had never heard of about a meeting of Hispanic lawyers in Albuquerque (N.M.).''

Bradshaw said he immediately accepted the invitation and attended the gathering.

``The Akron Bar (Association) was home, but this group's emphasis was on issues that were unique to me,'' Bradshaw continued. He said hearing of some of the situations that many of his fellow Hispanic barristers faced made his own race-related difficulties seem minor in comparison.

``But there was subtle discrimination that I sometimes could detect,'' Bradshaw said. He recalled a time when a Stark County judge seemed to be making fun of his slight accent.

``I just thought some of his remarks were inappropriate,'' he said.

Bradshaw said his involvement in the HNBA is based on his desire to ensure that the legal profession, particularly the court system, is as diverse as American society.

``The latest census determined that Hispanics are now the largest minority,'' said Bradshaw, who went on to lament that there has never been a Hispanic on the nation's highest court. He said that his organization is working hard to remedy that situation.

``Having a Hispanic on the court is not just a matter of pride, but (he or she) would be an important role model.... A kid from East L.A. will see that he or she can get just as far,'' he said.

But more important, Bradshaw said, is that having different voices and different backgrounds and experiences on the highest court in the land is key to balance and a perception of fairness.

``One voice can be persuasive and provide a different perspective.... The Supreme Court should be a reflection of the U.S. population.''

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