Alex Pires

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Alexander J. Pires, Jr. (born 1947) is an American lawyer and entrepreneur. He is married to Diane Cooley, a lawyer, and has two children.

Education and military service[edit]

Pires attended the University of Miami and then transferred to Boston University, graduating in 1969. From 1969-1972, Pires attended George Washington University Law School on a full scholarship, receiving his JD degree, with honors. In 1978 he received a master's degree (LLM) in taxation, also from GWU Law. Pires was drafted during the Vietnam War and entered the ROTC program at Georgetown University. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1972. In 1980, Pires was honorably discharged. His final rank was Major.

Legal career[edit]

United States Department of Justice and Government Service[edit]

Upon graduating from GW Law in 1972, Pires was accepted into the Attorney General’s Honors Program at the United States Department of Justice. In 1977 he received the Attorney General’s Special Commendation Award for work on complex litigation. Pires then became a senior trial attorney in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice where he took a lead role on the trial team responsible for the breakup of telecommunications giant AT&T.[1] Pires also served for eight years on the Board of Directors of the Federal Justice Credit Union, four as President. In 1980 Pires was appointed by President Carter as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).

Private Practice[edit]

Pires joined the firm of Barnett & Alagia in 1981, representing farmers and developing a specialty in agricultural law. Later, Pires formed the firm of Scott, Harrison & McLeod, which eventually became McLeod & Pires. In 1991 Pires joined the firm of Conlon Frantz Phelan & Pires, where he remained for 12 years. Today, Pires has a law practice with his wife, Diane Cooley in the firm Pires Cooley. Over the course of his career, Pires has been lead counsel in four class actions that have recovered over $4 billion for farmers.

Pigford v. Glickman[edit]

In 1997, Pires and attorney Phil Fraas agreed to take on the case of 11 Black farmers who had been discriminated against by the USDA for years. These farmers had been traveling the country trying to find lawyers to listen to their story. As described by John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers’ Association: “We visited with 14 lawyers, including Johnnie Cochran—all of them turned down the case. Pires and Fraas were the only ones willing to do it.” Pires told the farmers he believed their claims could only succeed if they could get several hundred other farmers with similar claims to join them in a class action. The claims involved were years, and often decades, old and the statute of limitations had long since expired. Pires theorized that if they could show USDA’s discriminatory practices regarding Black farmers was pervasive and longstanding the case would have wide appeal and the statute of limitations problem could be solved somehow. Pires, Fraas, and the farmers began touring the South, holding meetings to discuss and explain the case. Within a year they exceeded the goal of finding several hundred farmers who had been discriminated against by USDA. In September 1997 Pires and Frass filed Pigford v. Glickman in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, naming hundreds of plaintiffs with claims of discrimination and asking the court to certify a class.[2] Within a few months, noted civil rights leader and attorney J.L. Chestnut of Selma, Alabama joined Pires and Fraas. Battling heavy opposition from the Government, Pires succeeded in getting class certification and in 1999 Pires, Fraas, Chestnut and their colleagues settled the case. Ultimately, over 22,000 people filed claims. By the end of the claims process, over 15,000 claimants would be compensated (an average of $50,000 plus $12,500 to pay taxes on the award) for a total payout of $1.1 billion —making it one of the largest civil rights cases in history.[3]

The Keepseagle Case[edit]

In 1999 Pires and Fraas filed a Pigford-style case on behalf of Native American farmers against USDA.[4] Joseph Sellers of Cohen Millstein and other lawyers took over the lead in the case, which settled it in 2010 for $760 million.[5]

The DeLoach vs. Philip Morris Case[edit]

In 2000 Pires filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 435,000 tobacco farmers against the tobacco industry alleging the defendants violated antitrust laws by bid rigging at tobacco auctions.[6] Due to the heavy demands of the Pigford case, Pires brought in the Washington, DC law firm of Howrey Simon to litigate DeLoach. In 2003 a settlement was reached with all defendants except Reynolds, who subsequently settled in 2004. The combined value of the settlement to the plaintiff class was over $1 billion.

The Love and Garcia Cases[edit]

In addition to Keepseagle, Pires filed Pigford-style cases on behalf of women (Love v. Vilsack)[7] and Hispanic (Garcia v. Vilsack)[8] farmers against USDA. Both cases are still pending in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In the summer of 2012 the USDA announced a voluntary administrative process through which women farmers and Hispanic farmers could apply to receive compensation for discrimination by USDA dating back to 1981[9]—in essence validating the claims of the plaintiff in those lawsuits. The total amount of funds available to pay these claims was $1.25 billion.

Other business pursuits[edit]

Highway One Limited Partnership[edit]

In 1989 Pires formed Highway One LLP, which began purchasing music venues, bars, restaurants and hotels in Delaware. As of 2016, the company employed 475 full and part-time employees.

Community Bank Delaware[edit]

In 2005 Pires started Community Bank Delaware, based in Lewes, Delaware. Since the Bank’s inception, Pires has served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and in 2015 became the CEO. Today CBD has assets of about $160 million.

"Mayor Cupcake"[edit]

In 2009 Pires co-wrote, produced and directed the film Mayor Cupcake starring Lea Thompson, Judd Nelson and Frankie Faison.[10] The film, which was shot entirely in Delaware, tells the story of an uneducated cupcake baker who becomes the mayor of a small town. The film was selected by various film festivals and is available on demand at Netflix, Comcast and Showtime.

Teaching Positions[edit]

Pires served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center from 1998-2000 where he co-taught a course in Civil Discovery with his wife, Diane Cooley.From 1976-1979 Pires taught real estate and business law at the University of Maryland.

2012 Senate race[edit]

Pires ran as an Independent challenger in the United States Senate election in Delaware, 2012. He lost.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Deal of the Century, The Breakup of AT&T, Steven Coll (1988). See also United States v. AT&T, 552 F.Supp. 131 (D.D.C. 1982)
  2. ^ Pigford v. Glickman (now Pigford v. Vilsack), U.S.D.C., District of Columbia, No. 1:97-cv-1978-PLF
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2014-01-06. 
  4. ^ Keepseagle v. Vilsack, 99-cv-3119, U.S.D.C District of Columbia (EGS)
  5. ^ https://www.indianfarmclass.com//Documents.aspx
  6. ^ DeLoach, et al. v. Philip Morris Co., et al., U.S.D.C., Middle District of North Carolina, No. 1:00-cv-01235-WLO
  7. ^ Love v. Vilsack, U.S.D.C., District of Columbia, No. 1:00-cv-02502
  8. ^ Garcia v. Vilsack, U.S.D.C., District of Columbia, No. 1:00-cv-02445
  9. ^ http://www.farmerclaims.gov/
  10. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1496798