(HEAT EXCLUSIVE) Eric M. Carter, the legal genius behind the exoneration of Actor Clifton Powell

“The leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every calling, is diligence.” – Abraham Lincoln

Lawyers often time get a bad rap, for any host of reasons, but who’s the first person you call when you’re in trouble? The answer to that is, usually a lawyer.

Whether it’s a criminal case, auto accident or whatever the case may be, we call on and trust lawyers to do their job and work hard for us. Enter Eric Carter, a lawyer with a stellar track record who works diligently and consistently on behalf of his clients – the most recent of which is legendary actor, Clifton Powell.

ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 08: Actor Clifton Powell attends BronzeLens Film Festival at 444 Theatre on November 8, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

Whether he’s portraying the comical “Pinky” character from the Friday franchise, the snitching Chauncy from Menace 2 Society (my favorite, by the way) or a serious role, Clifton Powell is an amazing actor who owns every role he takes on – the latest of which he probably never envisioned himself taking on was as a defendant in a bogus rape case.

Thanks to Eric Carter, Mr. Powell has been exonerated. A false rape allegation is probably one of the worst crimes a man can be accused of committing and a charge that very few beat or ever live down. It is usually even harder to beat when the accused is African-American, as the justice system in this country is unusually harsh to African-American males. Thanks to the hard work put in by Mr. Carter on behalf of his client, we can have some sort of belief that the justice system won’t always fail us.

The Heat recently caught up with this incredible attorney and here’s what he had to say:

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: Tell us a little about yourself.

ERIC M. CARTER:  Eric M. Carter, Sr. is a problem solver! He provides expert representation in civil and business litigation, personal injury, and real estate law. Mr. Carter earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law. While at Loyola, he was elected President of the Student Bar Association. Mr. Carter was the second African American President at this prestigious institution. He also served as a Coach of the Loyola College of Law Moot Court Team. Before law school, Mr. Carter was a United States Presidential Management Fellow under President William J. Clinton’s Administration. After completing the Fellowship, Mr. Carter was selected as a program analyst within the Department of the Interior. As such, he was a manager of the multi-billion-dollar Oil Spill Financial Responsibility (OSFR) Program. Mr. Carter is a proud U. S. Navy veteran who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of New Orleans and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Akron. Mr. Carter is highly sought after for his legal prowess, problem solving, and negotiation skills. He assists individuals, businesses, and organizations to obtain large damages awards, equitable resolutions, and measured success. Mr. Carter is a “low-key” attorney for Stars, Executives, and Movers-and-Shakers, often traveling throughout the country providing guidance to his clients. Eric practices in U.S. state and federal courts and consults in International civil law jurisdictions. Eric enjoys life with family and friends in Metropolitan New Orleans, Louisiana.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: Give us a little background on the Powell case.

ERIC M. CARTER: Mr. Powell was accused, in his opinion and mine, of the most horrible crime a man who knows, respects, honors and loves women could be accused of, Rape. The allegations were reported after Mr. Powell and the accuser had enjoyed a romantic evening that lead into the next day which included several episodes of sexual intercourse and intimacy. After a few left-field comments concerning money an altercation ensued and Mr. Powell and his then-acquaintance ended their time together. The allegations were made to the New Orleans Police Department and an investigation was initiated. A fully vetted investigation was conducted including an interview with Mr. Powell. Lead Detective Damita Williams concluded that the allegations were baseless. She specifically cited in her police report that when asked whether or not she was forced or coerced into having sex with Mr. Powell the accuser declared “No.” Mr. Powell was never criminally charged, arrested, detained, or otherwise placed in custody for the allegations. There was no criminal proceeding regarding the allegations. Shortly thereafter, the accuser filed a federal lawsuit against Mr. Powell seeking and successfully obtaining a $153,000 money judgment. This judgment is properly termed a “default judgment.” Default Judgments are highly disfavored amongst courts because they are not granted based on an examination of facts but granted based on a procedural mechanism. Specifically, the accuser’s conclusory allegations were uncontested and accepted as true because Mr. Powell, through a lack of proper service, was unable to file an answer and respond. The default judgment was 3 years old when the Law Firm of Eric M. Carter, Sr., first discussed the matter. Through a series of passionate discussions with Mr. Powell, I agreed to study his case. I then developed a multi-layered and arduous strategy of simultaneously defending his case in two federal jurisdictions (Louisiana and California). This strategy has led to the federal court in Louisiana overturning its own ruling in favor of Mr. Powell, THREE (3) YEARS later.

THE HEAT MAGAZINE: What does the recent ruling mean for Mr. Powell’s criminal case?

ERIC M. CARTER: After the default judgment was ordered by the Honorable Judge Sarah J. Vance, United States District Court (USDC) for the Eastern District of Louisiana (LAED), the accuser sought to execute the same in the United States District Court (USDC) for the Central District of California (CAED). The USDC for LAED considered our voluminous written motions and agreed to grant the relief we sought, which was to set aside the Default Judgment against Mr. Powell. In other words, the money judgment (“default judgment”) was thrown out, dismissed, removed, and discarded. The court recognized it did not have jurisdiction over Mr. Powell and the judgment against him should not have been granted. Mr. Powell was never criminally charged, arrested, detained, or otherwise placed in custody for the allegations. There was no criminal proceeding regarding the allegations by the accuser. This ruling relieves Mr. Powell of the civil guilt, culpability, and punishment that was imputed to him at the granting of the money judgment. I pray Mr. Powell is now able to begin to repair his good name.

THE  HEAT MAGAZINE: What’s in store for your future, particularly given the successful outcome of the Powell case?

ERIC M. CARTER: This is truly a remarkable outcome! While oral argument is often portrayed and sensationalized as what we do as trial lawyers; truthfully, the real work is in our study of the rule of law, our analysis of the facts and the reasonable conclusions and inferences we make thereafter. This moment is personally gratifying because the court’s decision was not based on my skill as a zealous, calculated orator but on the seemingly forgotten skills of analytical thinking and persuasive writing. We won on the merits of the written argument. I will travel teaching and encouraging other brothers and sisters of all colors, shapes, and sizes to pursue this noble profession and become fierce problem solvers. I am a problem solver! I get paid big bucks to figure it out! My next move is to accept a few more impossible matters and fight for the amazing outcome!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Carter is a sought-after, brilliant young legal mind. He can be reached at:

Law Firm of Eric M.Carter, Sr., LLC
7809 Airline Drive, Suite 200
(504) 733-3538 (off)
(504) 733-1775 (fax)


About the author

Arlene Culpepper, Asst. Editor-in-Chief

Vice-President & Asst. Editor-in-Chief of The Heat Magazine, Arlene is a Louisiana native, Certified Paralegal, Publicist, Owner of MIKODreamz PR, co-owner of 504Diffusion, writer, producer, and jack of all trades, who is heavily involved in her community as well as serving as Media Advisor for New Orleans Union for Entertainment (NOUE), Member of the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, & 2016 NOLA Music Awards & Member of the Press Club of New Orleans. Her work is published across the web. She is also working on her first novel & aspires to turn it into a film & is currently writing the authorized biography of the legendary Pimp C of UGK. She can be reached via email at Arlene@theheatmag.com. Follow her on Twitter - @Arlene_HeatMag & Instagram - @hurricanearlene.