Gov. George C. Wallace and his former wife, Cornelia, are on opposite sides in another bizarre court case - this one stemming from fraud in the Alabama National Guard.
The fraud was a militarized version of tombstone voting - Alabama Guard officials paying themselves federal money for days of recruiting they never worked.
And now two of the Alabama Guardsmen who were disciplined by the governor are demanding, with the backing of Cornelia, more than $8 million in damages in a court case that is scheduled to be heard by a U.S. District Court jury in Montgomery on Dec. 4.
Not only are the governor and several Alabama lawmakers involved in this case, the U.S. Army will also be on hand to defend the major it ordered to investigate the Guard.
Gov. Wallace, lawyers said, is slated to testify for the adjutant general he appointed to clean up the Guard, and Cornelia will appear for one of the Guard officials fired during that clean-up.
"The cavalier approach taken by the adjutant general and his staff" toward the National Guard Bureau rules issued from Washington "contributed significantly to the extra-regulatory attitude which prevailed throughout the Alabama Army National Guard recruiting program," wrote Maj. Francis J. Cummings in the report on the Army investigation.
The Alabama Guard, according to the report, routinely issued orders to its officials to work as recruiters on days that had already passed. The orders were backdated as part of the fraud in collecting federal money for supposedly full days of recruiting.
"Senior members" of the Alabama Guard, Cummings said, "Perpetuated what literally constituted a fraud against the federal government amounting to several hundred thousand dollars annually.
"This reprehensible practice of commissioned officers knowingly certifying false official information reflects a complete lack of moral responsibility on the part of the unit commander concerned and calls into question the integrity of every officer in the Alabama Army National Guard," he wrote.
Wallace, in response to the Army findings, last year named Henry B. Gray as head of the Alabama Guard and directed him to end the abuses.
William R. Cole, a colonel in the Alabama Guard, is suing Cummings, Gray and two members of the state legislature for $8 million on grounds they violated his constitutional rights in actions that resulted in his being fired as a state personnel officer.
Cole claims in his suit that thought his efforts and that of others, "Alabama's recruitment and retention program became the most successful in the nation and was a model for other state National Guards from about 1972 to 1976."
Despite such service, Cole charges, Gray called him a "bad apple in the barrel" and fired him from his state job on April 20, 1977. The Alabama personnel board restored Cole to his state job about three months later.
Gray, as head of the Alabama Guard, then unsuccessfully tried to strip Cole of his colonel's rank. He had to settled for such lesser punishments as denying "plaintiff his reserved parking space" and "a key to the military department building," the suit alleges.
Lucius F. Stanaland Jr., "a recruiting and retention specialist" in the Alabama Guard, has filed a similar suit against Gray, Cummings and the two state lawmakers, asking $150,000 in damages because his constitutional rights were violated in the actions that led to his suspension for five days from his jobs with the guard.
Government attorneys have failed in repeated attempts to have the suits dismissed.