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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Indicted Alabama sheriff files to dismiss state ethics law

BLOGGER COMMENTS:   It must be Sheriff's Day at the blog. Anyway, of course, the indicted sheriff (AKA Jabba the Hutt) wants to challenge the law that caught up with him to the tune of twelve felonies and a misdemeanor.  He pretends not to understand simple English.  Reminds this blog of a certain former president whose defense depended on the definition of  "is".

By 




An Alabama sheriff indicted for violating the state’s ethics laws wants the state’s ethics laws to be declared unconstitutional and his indictment to be dismissed, saying it is vague and overly broad.
Attorneys for Limestone County sheriff Mike Blakely filed the motion Tuesday, asking Circuit Judge Pride Tompkins to throw out the criminal case because the laws he is accused of breaking are flawed.
Blakely – who is serving his 10th term in office -- was arrested Aug. 22 and charged with 13 counts of theft and state ethics violations. He was subsequently booked into his own jail.
Blakely has been charged with the following crimes:
  • Six felony counts of use of official position or office for personal gain
  • Two felony counts of first-degree theft
  • Two felony counts of second-degree theft
  • Two felony counts of third-degree theft
  • One misdemeanor count of fourth-degree theft
He’s accused of stealing $11,000 from his campaign account and illegally taking money from Limestone County funds, according to the Alabama Attorney General’s office.
In arguing for the vagueness of the state ethics law, Blakely attorneys Robert Tuten and Marcus Helstowski cite a bevy of legal cases that set a precedent for the indictment to be dropped.
That includes a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court opinion that said, "a conviction fails to comport with due process if the statute under which it is obtained fails to provide a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what is prohibited, or is so standard that it authorizes or encourages seriously discriminatory enforcement."
Specific to Blakley's case, the lawyers maintain that five counts in the indictment allege the sheriff with "using his official position or office for personal gain in violation of §36-25-5(a). Nowhere in the statute does it specify what conduct is prohibited. Nor does it specifically explain the term 'using' or 'personal gain.'"
And in another count in which Blakely is charged with soliciting a thing of value from a subordinate, the law "does not specifically explain what conducts are prohibited and leaves it to a best guess as to what 'solicitation' and 'thing of value' mean."
The motion also invoked the name of former Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, who was removed from office in 2016 following conviction on state ethics charges. Hubbard’s appeal is now before the Alabama Supreme Court.
"The Defendant concedes that in similar cases, Alabama appellate courts have upheld the Alabama Ethics Act," the filing said before stating the Hubbard case is under review by the state's high court.
In a separate filing Tuesday, Blakely said that Count 9 in the indictment is fourth-degree theft of property. That charge is a misdemeanor, the filing said, and state law said the prosecution for misdemeanors must begin within a year of the commission of the alleged crime. The incident in the indictment occurred in 2016 and, as such, should also be dismissed.

AL.com reporter Ashley Remkus contributed to this report.
For those not familiar with Star Wars characters
Jabba the Hutt
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