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Judge in Herman Thomas Case Gives Rulings

from www.lagniappemobile.com – Retired Marengo County Circuit Court Judge Claud Neilson threw out 20 ethics violations against former Mobile Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas Monday afternoon, because the statute of limitations under which they are enforceable has expired.

Thomas will go to trial on charges for allegedly forcing prisoners to have sexual relations with him and to allow him to paddle them in return for more lenient sentences.

Neilson also agreed to let alleged named victims remain in court during portions of the trial related to them, but to exclude them as other victims testify. He said he would inform the jury of this under the stipulation that the trial has been consolidated and not a lack of interest from victims. Neilson has yet to rule on whether to allow two motions presented by the prosecution, led by Assistant District Attorney Nikki Patterson.

The first motion would allow Dr. Kati M. Arata of the University of South Alabama – an expert on sexual behavior and fetishes – to testify as en expert witness regarding the alleged sexual behavior of Thomas, defining behaviors described as fetish-like and its development and motivation.

The second prosecution motion awaiting a decision from Neilson would allow testimony of one of Thomas’s former colleagues, Circuit Court Judge Charles Graddick, and two other judges, Circuit Court Judge Gene Reese from Montgomery and Circuit Court Judge Randall L. Cole. Patterson said the judges’ testimony would allow jurors to fully understand why Thomas’s alleged actions were wrong.

“Only a judge can say I wouldn’t do that,” Patterson said, speaking of Thomas’s alleged willingness to step outside the bounds of the justice system. Patterson said the judges, if allowed to testify, would also act as fact witnesses providing observations of and conversations they shared with Thomas. Patterson elaborated on their other role – as expert witnesses – saying the judges could explain checking inmates out of jail, taking them to baseball games and getting some alleged mothers of the victims a job.

The defense, in response to the prosecution’s request to let Dr. Arata testify, argued they had not been given enough time to prepare their own expert witness. They were given notice of the request only five days ago, Bob “Cowboy” Clark argued. The defense also argued that Thomas’ due process rights would be “shattered” if the motion is issued.

The prosecution argued the defense would have roughly 20 days before Arata testified, and in that time they could find their own expert witness.

Clark said the effort to find an expert witness could be beyond the defense’s capacity because the prosecution continues to hand them discoveries.

“They handed us one this morning,” Clark said before adding that Arata’s testimony would be way beyond the scope of what’s alleged.

When it came time for arrangements to be made regarding whether alleged victims could remain in the courtroom for testimonies outside of their own individual cases, Clark called the victims, “bums.” Seven of the 15 are currently incarcerated. After Clark’s statement, Patterson expressed her concern as to how jurors could potentially interpret another statement similar to Clark’s. Clark then acted as if he were relenting, but continued calling the alleged victims “felons.” Only one alleged victim is a felon, Clark later said.

After the day’s proceedings concluded, Clark told reporters Patterson was a “bitch” for filing three grievances against him in an attempt to have him removed from the case. Patterson was well within earshot of Clark when he made the comment. When asked whether he thought it was fine to call those who were “paying their debt to society, “bums,” Clark proceeded to call the alleged victims “scumbags.”

Neilson said he would “sleep on” his decision to allow Dr. Arata and the three circuit court judges testify as expert witnesses. He called the decision to allow or disallow circuit court judges to testify “unusual,” to which Patterson responded, “Everything about this case is unusual.”

A decision could come as early as the end of the day tomorrow and Neilson said he hopes to start the trial this Friday if all goes as planned.

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