Cases Logjammed In Steelman Division Of Criminal Court As Public Defender Files Recusals On All Cases

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cases are backing up in Judge Barry Steelman's division of Criminal Court as Public Defender Ardena Garth daily files motions to have the judge go off all her office's cases.

Ms. Garth on Monday morning handed another stack of indigent cases to the clerk for Judge Steelman, saying the office wanted another judge on those matters.

She claims that Judge Steelman is biased against her office.

So far, she has filed for recusals in over 50 cases starting the middle of last week.

Judge Steelman has set a hearing next Monday afternoon on the mass recusals.

The confrontation apparently began when Judge Steelman put down an order transferring the capital case involving Jesse Mathews from the public defender's office to private attorneys Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss. Judge Steelman was critical of assistant public defenders Mary Ann Green and Karla Gothard in that order.

He was also critical of the public defender's office last week at a hearing on a request by Ms. Green for recusal in the kidnapping case of Frederick Anderson.

At one point in the hearing, he called one action by Ms. Green in the case "sloppy" and, at another, he asked Ms. Garth and Ms. Green if they were taping the hearing. When Ms. Garth asked if she had to answer, he had her stand up and take an oath. She did so, then said she did not have a tape recorder on her. 

On Monday, Judge Steelman asked several indigent defendants if they had been told about the recusal motions. Ms. Garth objected to such questions, saying that got into the area of attorney-client privilege.

Ms. Garth declined to answer the judge if she would object to proceeding with cases in which pleas had already been worked out with the district attorney's office. She said the next move was a decision by the judge on the recusal motions.

Judge Steelman said continuing to put the cases off meant that some clients would have to stay in jail longer and it would involve more costs for the county to incarcerate them.

Some clients of the Transformation Project had their cases worked out and had been set to be released on Monday, it was stated. However, those cases were delayed with all the other public defender matters. 

 


Congress Sends President First State Department Authorization In 14 Years

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,  on Saturd ay announced that for the first time  in 14 years , a State Department authorization bill will be sent to the president’s desk to be signed into law. The Senate unanimously approved   S.1635   on Saturday. It is legislation referred to the Senate earlier this week from the ... (click for more)

Corker Votes Against Continuing Resolution Spending Bill; Alexander Says It Will Fully Fund His 21st Century Cures Bill

Senator Bob Corker released the following statement after voting against a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution. “The inability to get our fiscal house in order is the greatest long-term threat our country faces, and I opposed this legislation because it will grow the federal deficit through the continued use of budget gimmicks,” said Senator Corker. “Last ... (click for more)

New School Funding Ideas

After reading the article “County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding,” I could not help but think about how helpful it would be to have the millions of taxpayer dollars given the owners of Walnut Common apartments to build some new schools.   In case you did not know, since 2008 our elected officials have given away millions in taxpayer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Facebook Starlet

The Pants Store, a toney women’s boutique in Birmingham’s Mountain Book community, held its annual Holiday Open House about a week or so and, as usual, the popular store was full of customers and holiday cheer. It was a festive gathering, fun for all, but as store employees cleaned up for the next day, they happened across an empty designer-shoe box and a brassiere somebody had ... (click for more)

CSAS Gets Defensive In Win Over Boyd-Buchanan

High school basketball is still in the early stages of the 2016-17 season, but CSAS coach Mark Dragoo is already seeing improvement from his team and they’ve only played four games. The Patriots are always a good team with lots of quick, athletic players who can shoot well and play sticky defense. That was the case on Friday night at Boyd-Buchanan as the Patriots shot well ... (click for more)

Bradley Girls Stave Off Stone Memorial's Upset Bid, 48-46

The Bradley Central Bearettes’ ninth straight win to open the high school basketball season was their toughest to date. The Bearettes got a game-winning field goal from junior standout Rhyne Howard – on an assist by Halle Hughes – with no time left on the clock for a 48-46 non-district victory over stubborn Stone Memorial at Jim Smiddy Arena on Friday night. After a turnover ... (click for more)