Jefferson County judge faces rare Court of the Judiciary trial

Published: Jul. 26, 2013 at 1:56 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2013 at 2:57 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A judge finds herself on the other side of the bench and her job may be on the line. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Dorothea Batiste faces a rare trial next week before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.

[DOCUMENT: Amended Complaint against Judge Dorothea Batiste (.pdf)]

[DOCUMENT: Judge Dorothea Batiste's Answer to Complaint (.pdf)]

She's accused of overstepping her bounds by ordering excessive jail time for those in contempt of court. In some cases, the Judicial Inquiry Commission charged, people were jailed without a hearing first.

"This complaint is based upon Judge Batiste's violation of Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics through her repeated failure in 2011 and 2012 to comply with Alabama and federal law regarding her exercise of contempt power," the Commission said in its complaint.

But it is Batiste who feels she is being targeted because of the fact she is a "black female Republican."

"I have known throughout all of this, people were going off into conference rooms, meeting together after hearings, coming up with strategies with how to remove me," Batiste said.

Batiste took office in 2011. She said it didn't take long for problems to arise with the presiding judge. She claims the judge harassed her racially and sexually. She also claims he tried to influence the outcome of certain cases.

She said she complained to state officials.

"As that got back to the presiding judge, and the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, which we think we acting as his agent, then certainly the heat was turned up on her greatly," said Julian McPhillips, Batiste's attorney.The presiding judge has since retired. The court ruled those harassment claims will not be factor during the trial, which begins on Monday.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission filed its initial complaint in April. Batiste has been off the bench since then.

The Commission's executive director declined to comment on the case until its conclusion. Speaking generally, she said the intent of the Court of the Judiciary is not to punish the judge, but to preserve the integrity of the judiciary.

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