Warner case may be settled before trial

Patricia Warner
Patricia Warner

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - When the state's Court of the Judiciary meets on January 27th, it will decide whether to accept a settlement between former Montgomery County Family Court Judge Patricia Warner and the Judicial Inquiry Commission.   Warner's attorney Charles Dauphin told WSFA 12 News on Friday that the settlement is very favorable to his client.

"Under the settlement agreement, she's only being charged with what amounts to a judicial speeding ticket.  It's not even a fine or a warning associated with it," Dauphin said.

Dauphin said the terms of the settlement will be made public at the hearing, and that Warner will speak to reporters about the case.

Warner retired in June, just days before the state's Judicial Inquiry Commission charged her with a number of counts of judicial misconduct.   Since then, attorneys for the Commission and Warner have been trying to settle the charges against her.  For the first time, the two sides are using the option of an alternative dispute resolution to settle the case.

Susan Raybon, one of the people named in the complaint against Warner, does not want a settlement but a full civil trial.  Warner presided over Raybon's divorce from her ex-husband and a later dispute over custody payment, before the case was assigned to another judge.

"We had to go back and do an appeal, and then it was back again," Raybon said.  "It took about two and a half years, when it should have been settled in six months to a year at the longest."

Raybon says her legal fees are at more than $25,000.  She thinks Warner should have to pay.

"She needs to reimburse us for the money we've had to pay out because of that, but the biggest thing is she won't be able to hurt anyone else, and cause them the problems she's caused me," Raybon said.

Dauphin said his client has not done anything wrong, and has been hurt by the charges.

"And I think after the hearing, after everybody knows the settlement, then they will understand Pat and believe her when she says she didn't do anything wrong."

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in a case that *might* have some bearing on Judge Warner's proceedings. Justices upheld an order from the Court of the Judiciary that will keep former Houston County John Steensland from serving as a judge in Alabama.  Steensland, like Warner, retired before his case went to a civil trial.

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