DETROIT – Former Mayor Dennis Archer, who just finished a term as head of the nation's largest lawyer group, says he hopes to settle two lawsuits brought by civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks (search) over use of her name by the rap group OutKast (search).
U.S. District Judge George Steeh appointed Archer as guardian for the 91-year-old Parks on Oct. 15 after it was disclosed that she has dementia and other medical problems.
"If we can resolve it short of trial, we intend to do it," Archer said.
Parks was 42 when she refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (search)
Parks' lawyers filed a lawsuit against OutKast in 1999, claiming it wrongly used her name in the title of a song. A suit filed in August seeks damages from the group's record companies and two major booksellers.
OutKast has declined comment on the suits.
Following a lengthy meeting with Steeh on Wednesday, Archer said Florida lawyer Willie E. Gary will handle Parks' suits. A trial was scheduled for August 2005, The Detroit News said.
Archer served on the Michigan Supreme Court and eight years as Detroit mayor. He is past president of the 400,000-member American Bar Association.
Steeh has criticized Gregory Reed, a Detroit attorney who was Parks' lead lawyer in the suits, and some of his legal filings. Reed remains part of the Parks legal team.