Sam C. Pointer Jr.

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Sam Clyde Pointer Jr. (November 15, 1934 – March 15, 2008) was an attorney in Birmingham, Alabama (United States) and a United States federal judge for the Northern District of Alabama from 1970 to 2000. He was a noted figure in complex multidistrict class-action litigation.

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Pointer received an A.B. from Vanderbilt University in 1955, and a J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1957, finishing first in his class. He was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 1957, and went on to receive an LL.M. in tax law from New York University School of Law in 1958. He was in the United States Army in 1957, and in the United States Army Reserve from 1957 to 1970. He was in private practice in Birmingham, Alabama from 1958 to 1970, working for his father, Sam C. Pointer, Sr.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On September 22, 1970, Pointer was nominated by President Richard Nixon to a new seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama created by 84 Stat. 294. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 8, 1970, and received his commission on October 14, 1970. He became the District's Chief Judge in 1982, and continued to hold that position throughout his tenure on the bench.

While on the bench, Pointer ruled that Jefferson County Schools should bus students to achieve racial integration in the 1970s, for which he received numerous death threats. He also issued orders regarding conditions and hiring policies at Birmingham's and Jefferson County's jails. He upheld the City of Birmingham's Affirmative Action hiring plan in 1981 and again in 1992. He also made significant rulings in litigation against the manufacturers of silicone gel breast implants, a national case assigned to him by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. He was also involved in antitrust litigation against cast iron pipe and plywood manufacturers.

In addition to his work on the bench, Pointer was principal author of the Manual for Complex Litigation, 2nd edition and served on the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. From 1980 to 1987 he served on the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals and from 1991 to 1993 was Chair of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules.

Pointed assumed senior status, on November 19, 1999, and was succeeded by Karon Bowdre. Pointer served in that capacity until his retirement from the bench on April 3, 2000.

Post-judicial life[edit]

After retiring he joined the Birmingham firm of Lightfoot, Franklin & White as a partner. He led the 2007 investigation into alleged academic improprieties surrounding the Hoover High School football team, concluding that athletes were given special treatment. The report led to the resignation of coach Rush Propst.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Newly created seat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
October 14, 1970 – November 19, 1999
Succeeded by
Karon Bowdre