In the latest update in the ongoing case against the apparent winner of Tuscaloosa City Council's District 7 election, candidate Cassius Lanier has been granted three pardons for each of his state felony convictions by the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.

The hearing took place on Tuesday and was the next big development since incumbent councilwoman Sonya McKinstry filed a lawsuit claiming Lanier's prior felonies barred him from holding public office.

The results of the 2021 municipal elections saw Lanier narrowly defeat McKinstry by a margin of 25 votes, 749 to 724.

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In order for Lanier to take office on May 17, he must receive a pardon for all outstanding convictions. According to state law, a person can be considered for a pardon if they have either completed their sentence or served three years on parole for any offense.

Lanier qualified for a pardon for each of his three state convictions, but there was a complication, according to both parties' legal counsel. The issue stemmed from Lanier's lingering felony conviction.

“I’m very confident Mr. Lanier will be disqualified,” McKinstry's lawyer Cam Parsons told The Thread in the weeks leading up to his hearing. "The state can only pardon state convictions, not felony convictions” 

But Jason Neff, Lanier's appointed counsel, told The Thread that the application for his pardons contained relief for his federal convictions as well. It too was granted, Neff said.

"We do still have an open Civil action, but our position is excited to represent District 7," Neff said.

Lanier's ability to take office the office to which he was elected now rests with Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance, who is presiding over McKinstry's case. For now, both Parsons and Neff must present their legal arguments, cross-motions and stipulations of fact to the judge no later than April 23.

This story is developing. Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread as more information becomes available.

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