Judge Dismisses Felony Counts; Worley Case Delayed

MONTGOMERY, Ala., July 11, 2007 --  Montgomery Circuit Court Judge Truman Hobbs Jr. dismissed the felony counts against former Secretary of State Nancy Worley.  The state said they wanted a delay in the case to appeal and Judge Hobbs granted the delay.

Judge Hobbs told attorneys from the Attorney General's Office he had read their brief and it "was very well done."  Deputy Attorney General told the judge the brief "speaks for itself.  The statute is presumed valid...The right to vote and the ballot is sacred...We ask the court not to dismiss the counts."

Defense attorney James Anderson told the judge, "Ms. Worley did not use her authority..." and attorney Don Jones told the judge that he was going to submit a phone book into evidence to counter the government's argument that Worley "used her office to obtain addresses...They're all in the phone book."

Quickly Judge Hobbs said, "I'm going to toss out the felony counts...The statutes makes it a misdemeanor to solicit employees for a political contributions...We're turning around and trying to make that conduct.. a felony for someone to put a bumper sticker on a car...Further it's a misdemeanor to coerce an employee."

"With the interpretation of the attorney general  you can ask someone to put out a campaign sign and that's a felony...If you coerce that's a misdemeanor...The felony statute is vague, it's overly broad...."

Reiterating an argument from Tuesday, Hobbs said, "Y' all are trying to bootstrap this into a felony...I think I know what they intended to criminalize...(But under this) Any act of a legislature like sending a letter would be a felony..."

Assistant Attorney General Ben Baxley quickly said, "We would give notice of appeal and ask the court to delay the trial...."

Hobbs quickly responded, "I'll grant you the delay...We're sort of blazing new trails...I welcome the delay...I'll delay the case until we get guidance from above."

Hobbs said he would issue a written order in the next couple of days. "I want to give you something clear you can shoot at..."

The case will be reviewed by the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Reported by:  Helen Hammons