Covering Lowndes County: White Hall Mayor Goes to Court

WSFA 12 News has new developments in the criminal investigation into the Mayor of White Hall. Friday, he appeared in court for an arraignment in Hayneville and WSFA 12 News was the only station there.

It didn't take long for Mayor John Jackson of White Hall to say "not guilty." The arraignment lasted about 10 minutes and in the end that was about all he had to say. "I don't have any comments." But his attorney, Hank Sanders, had a lot to say about his client. "I believe, profoundly, that Mayor Jackson has not committed any crime that he's in fact innocent." That's why Sanders says he took this case even though it's very unusual for him. "I rarely take any criminal cases. I'll bet over the last 20 years I probably haven't been involved in even five. I can't count them but I took this case because it's a special case."

In the indictment, Mayor John Jackson is accused of theft of property - of stealing more than $43,000 from the Town of White Hall. Jackson is also accused of using his office for personal gain. However, Sanders says it is the Town of White Hall that has gained. "What he has done over these many years is found all kind of ways to give his time and energy to the city and help in every way. And, defense attorney Julian McPhillips agrees. "If anything, the Town of White Hall owes him money not vice versa."

In earlier reports, Jackson claimed he loaned the city of White Hall money to buy land and he was simply paying himself back. Defense attorneys, however, did not want to talk about that saying they don't want to try the case in the media.

The trial date is scheduled for March 17th but that date could change. Jackson's lead attorney is also a state senator and he says the March date may conflict with his work in the legislature.

The Attorney General's office says the evidence will speak for itself and other than that "it" has no further comment.

Reporter: Eileen Jones