Original article no longer available
Thursday, June 05, 2008
By BRIAN LYMAN, Capital Bureau
MONTGOMERY – Clarke County Circuit Judge Stuart DuBose could find out as early as today whether he will be removed from the bench, following five dozen ethics charges filed against him.
At a hearing before the state’s Court of Judicial Inquiry Wednesday, prosecution witnesses painted a portrait of an alternatively bullying and self-pitying individual, suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, threatening attorneys and employees and using his position in a way that led to significant doubts about his impartiality.
“It’s not about Judge DuBose,” said Tom Sorrells, who represented the state Judicial Inquiry Commission, which brought the charges against the judge. “It’s about the judicial system, and the right for what to expect from the judicial system.”
The judge pleaded “diminished capacity” last March. Defense attorneys sought a delay of the hearing in order to continue a mental evaluation of DuBose, saying his behavior stemmed from his mental troubles, made worse by the use of prescription drugs, including antidepressants, stimulants, pain medication and drugs for attention deficit disorder.
“The man is not capable, from the undisputed testimony, of rational thought,” said Clarence McDormand, a lawyer from Birmingham who represented DuBose at the hearing. “He is not capable of knowing, from one minute to the next, what the truth is.”
DuBose, 51, is currently being held in a Baldwin County jail cell for allegedly possessing a gun while under a restraining order. The charge, unrelated to Wednesday’s hearing, carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. The judge’s district includes Clarke, Choctaw and Washington counties.
DuBose declined an opportunity to appear at the hearing, said Shelby County attorney Farrell Moody, representing the judge.
DuBose faces 60 ethics charges, including:
- That he acted improperly in a lawsuit brought by Alabama Power.
- That he awarded custody rights to a father in a divorce case without a hearing, then promptly removed those rights (also without a hearing) after learning the father was being investigated by the Department of Human Resources on a child molestation allegation.
- That he told lawyers in his circuit that he would give them “home-field advantage.”
- That he asked those attorneys to sign pledges to re-elect him in 2012.
The prosecution argued that DuBose had effectively intimidated attorneys by forcing them to “get on board” his re-election campaign, which witnesses said started almost immediately after he won the 2006 Democratic primary.
Jacqueline Bradley, an attorney who backed DuBose’s opponent Chip Bailey, testified at the hearing that DuBose told her that her endorsement had been “harmful to his family, to his children (and) to his parents” and forced his daughter to seek psychiatric counseling.
Bradley told the court that her endorsement appeared in the ad without her knowledge.
Chrissy Dunn, DuBose’s former court reporter, testified that after DuBose had agreed to provide a hearing transcript to Alabama Power after a condemnation hearing, the judge ordered her not to, using obscene language and threatening her while returning to her office several times. At one point, Dunn said DuBose “was sweating real bad, he was agitated, mad and he started screaming, ‘Would you f? with me? Would you f? with me?'”
Former Clarke County District Attorney Bobby Keahey, who represented the mother in the child case, said in court that at a subsequent hearing, DuBose tried to order DHR to change its records and accused the agency of trying to make him look bad.
Keahey said when he attempted to make an argument on behalf of his client, DuBose ordered his court reporter not to take Keahey’s words down.
The defense did not call any witnesses to testify before the seven-judge panel, but made motions to delay the proceedings due to mental incapacity. The judges refused the requests. Doug McKeown, a clinical psychologist who interviewed DuBose in prison, said the judge showed several signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but said he felt DuBose “understands and appreciates the seriousness of the charges against him.”
The court could order anything from DuBose’s removal to a private censure. If the court orders his removal, DuBose has 30 days to file a motion for a new trial. The court has 90 days to rule on the motion; if a new trial is rejected, the defendant has 42 days to appeal the ruling.