Transcript of clip from Justice John Charles Thomas interview

John Charles Thomas: Well, let’s see. There came a time when there was a case for a client somewhere in Virginia, a banking issue, and I found out later that this client was afraid for me to be their lawyer in this part of Virginia for them because I was black. Now what I saw at the time was that I get assigned this case and the next thing I know an older lawyer who is not a partner, he’s an associate but he’s senior to me: “John Charles, you need some help on your case?” No, I don’t need any help. “You sure you don’t need some help on your case?” I’m fine. I don’t need any help. “Why don’t I help you on your case?” So the next thing I know this guy is going with me to this trial, and he does something, I do most of the trial and all that, and we win this case, but later I come to find out that what had happened, the story I was told, is that this client was afraid to have this black lawyer for them up in some county in Virginia and, you know, that might not have been a crazy idea. And so they were trying to take me off the case and I was told that the firm said no, John Thomas is one of our strong young lawyers, he’s going to be on the case and to make the client happy they send this guy to: “Do you need any help on your case?”

Cassandra Newby-Alexander: So the client didn’t want a black attorney for fear that they would lose their case?

John Charles Thomas: Well yeah. I mean I think it was a lot of things. They would think: What is a white judge, in this part of Virginia, going to think about a black person coming into their court, you know, and people don’t want risk, is what folks are often afraid of.