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Robert Collins

Biography: 

Robert Collins (1931- ) is a civil rights attorney and former federal judge. Collins was born in New Orleans and graduated from Dillard University in 1951. In the fall of 1951 Collins enrolled at Louisiana State University Law School, becoming one of the first three African American students to do so. He graduated from LSU Law School in 1954. Collins later started a legal practice with Loyola Law School alums Lolis Elie and Nils Douglas. In 1960 the New Orleans chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) asked Collins and his firm to represent CORE after a sit-in campaign. Collins and his firm defended CORE chapter President Rudy Lombard and three others who were arrested for staging a sit-in protest at the lunch counter of the McCrory Five and Ten Cent Store in New Orleans. They appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court which, in its decision, declared the city's ban on sit-ins unconstitutional. Collins' firm also provided free legal counsel to the Consumers' League, a group of black civil rights activists who protested discriminatory employment practices. President Jimmy Carter nominated Collins to serve as a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. At the time, Collins was the first African American federal judge to sit on the bench in the South in the twentieth century. Collins resigned his post amid claims that he accepted a bribe in exchange for giving a criminal defendant a lighter sentence. Collins was ultimately convicted of bribery, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, and, in September 1991, was sentenced to a prison term of six years and ten months.

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