Date Filed: 06/28/2024

Braxton et al., v. Stokes et al. is a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court Southern District of Alabama, challenging racially discriminatory voting and electoral practices in Newbern, Alabama. LDF and co-counsel Quinn, Connor, Weaver, Davis, & Rouco LLP represent Patrick Braxton and other Black Newbern residents in the case. The plaintiffs claim that they have continually faced unlawful discrimination in attempting to vote and hold office in Newbern. 

The lawsuit alleges that the town’s voting and electoral practices violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The complaint asks the court to order new elections for town council and for defendants to follow Alabama law, which specifies how elections should be held. 

Newbern, Alabama is a majority Black community that, but for decades Black residents have been denied an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and and elect candidates of their choice. Newbern officials repeatedly failed to hold or give notice for municipal elections. Until 2020, Newbern had not held mayoral elections since 1965. Instead, positions were “passed down” to almost all white residents without elections being held. 

Newbern’s first Black mayor, Patrick Braxton, was elected in November 2020. After his election, Newbern residents arranged illegal and secret special election, which prevented Mayor Braxton from appointing a majority-Black town council and Newbern voters from electing their candidate of choice for town council. The lawsuit argues that the Town of Newbern failed to properly hold elections and unlawfully prevented the town’s first Black mayor and first majority-Black town council from fulfilling their official duties. 

A settlement was reached in the case in June 2024. It is currently pending before the judge.