Dothan Christmas tree controversy

A south Alabama defense lawyer is asking courts to delay criminal trials until officials remove a courthouse Christmas tree that's decorated with crime victim photos.

Dothan attorney Billy Joe Sheffield II filed motions asking courts to delay trials for as many as 15 clients because of the tree at the Houston County courthouse.

Sheffield tells The Dothan Eagle in a story Friday ( he's not opposed to the Christmas tree. He says the victim photos are the problem because they may create bias in court.

The tree is sponsored by a chapter of Victims of Crime and Leniency, or VOCAL. A group leader says she doesn't think the tree will influence any jurors.

Sheffield says judges already have refused most of his delay requests, but others are still pending.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.