MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A suspended Montgomery municipal judge has been reappointed to his position.
At Tuesday night's city council meeting, the city council voted to reappoint Lester Hayes as a municipal court judge.
The Court of the Judiciary suspended Hayes for 11 months in November 2016 for imprisoning those who could not afford to pay fines, grossly deficient record keeping, and employing a company to oversee debt collection
While on suspension, Hayes was placed on the city of Montgomery's payroll. He was being paid $6,500 a month to provide assistance in the Office of City Investigations in legal matters. Hayes was ordered to end the agreement with the city.
Some spoke out against the reappointment at Tuesday night's meeting.
"I've never seen it to where a judge can plead guilty to seven counts of corruption and then be returned back to the seat he plead back over innocent or maybe guilty people's lives," said citizen Willie Knight. "The integrity of the judge is held to a higher standard. There is no way you can be accused of the kind of crimes that he pled guilty to, nobody twisted his arm, nobody made him do it, he did it on his own. The crimes he committed, he was honest enough to admit that he was guilty."
"I had spoken extensively at our work session this afternoon about my philosophical bent that I could not, in good conscience, support the presiding judge to be re-confirmed for the municipal court of the city of Montgomery, because of the egregious inequities that were apparently prominent during his tenure as the presiding judge," said Montgomery City Councilman Tracy Larkin.
Larkin was the only council member to vote against Hayes' reinstatement.
"We knew that Les was a scapegoat, in my opinion, because he was wringed out," said Councilman Charles Jinright. "Reality of it, Mr. Hayes served his suspension. By law, if you ever are appointed, you can go back on there until the mayor replaces you, because you're appointed by the mayor."
At the meeting, one citizen threatened to lead a boycott of the city should Hayes be given his old position back.