Criminal Jury Trials In Houston County - A Preview of Henry and Dale County and City of DothanRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Jun 10 2012 10:43 AM
HOUSTON – HENRY – DALE: The Houston County Courthouse will be full Monday morning with Judges, Defendants, Attorneys, Bondsman and jurors. It will be the scene of a criminal jury trial week.
Each of the Judges have full dockets - Judge Larry Anderson, Judge Mike Conaway, Judge Kevin Moulton, Judge Brad Mendheim and Judge Butch Binford. The criminal jury trials dockets are full of theft of property cases, theft by deception cases, sex abuses cases, DUI felony cases, Possession of Marijuana cases, Possession of Controlled Substance, Trafficking in Cocaine, Obstruction of Justice cases, Rape in the first degree and second degree, Attempted Murder, Robbery, Reckless Endangerment, Bail Jumping, Sodomy, Sexual torteiture, Unlawful Manufacturing of Controlled Substance, Fraudulant Use of Credit Cards, Attempted Assault cases.
Judges Mendheim, Binford, Moulton and Conaway each have domestic relations cases sprinkled in with the criminal cases for decisions to be made.
Judge Benjamin Lewis begins Monday with a full docket of cases. At 8:30 AM Judge Lewis holds “first appearance” cases. This is where persons in jail come before the Judge through video TV from the jail to the courtroom. Judge Lewis discusses their case, advises them of what they are charged with, do they have an attorney or plan to hire an attorney, if not – if they qualify for a court appointed attorney.
Following Judge Lewis handling of first appearance he jumps into misdemeanor trials of NWNI ( Negotiating Worthless Negotiable Instruments ) Violation of Protection Orders, and Possession of Marijuana trials.
Judge Lori Ingram has juvenile cases. Those cases are confidential and the dockets are not available for viewing. Judge Ingram and Judge Binford routinely handle the juvenile matters. Unless the juvenile is certified as an adult their cases are confidential and there in no way the public is allowed to see or hear those cases.
The Houston County Courthouse will have lines the first thing in the morning outside as Houston County Sheriff Deputies screen each of the persons arriving in the courthouse. Remember leave your pocket knives in your vehicles!
When the jury pool arrives they are assembled in the 1st floor jury assembly room. There Houston County Circuit Clerk Carla Woodall and her staff gathers information on each juror. While this is in progress each Judge meets with attorneys with cases on their dockets, meets with the prosecutors, to discuss the cases where offers have been made and the defendants might change their plea of not guilty to guilty. The Judge takes the guilty pleas and handles motions while the jury information is being compiled.
It will be at that point the jurors are divided between the courtroom and the cases begin.
Houston – Henry County District Attorney Doug Valeska and his staff have prosecutors assigned to each Judge. The prosecutors have multiple cases lined up, witnesses and evidence lined up, and ready for trials to begin.
Henry County District Court Judge Derek Peterson begins the week Monday with several cases on his docket. Judge Peterson will hold “first appearances” for persons in jail over the weekend that have not made bond. The arresting agency will bring the persons from the jail to the Judge where he will do like Judge Lewis. Explain to the persons what they are charged with, the range of punishment , do they have an attorney, plan to or have the financial means to employ an attorney. If they do not Judge Peterson will appoint them an attorney to represent them in the criminal matter.
Judge Peterson also has cases scheduled before him in misdemeanor cases. Some district criminal cases, traffic cases, noise cases, reckless endangerment and NWNI cases. Judge Peterson has some domestic relation cases before him and protection from abuse cases scheduled for Monday morning.
Judge Kenneth Quattlebaum and Judge P.B. McLaughlin have several cases scheduled before them. A docket of civil cases and domestic relations cases assigned to each of them.
Judge Stan Garner has several district civil and small claims cases. Judge Garner will also hold the intial first appearances for persons in jail.
City of Dothan
Usually Monday’s are big court dates for Judge Rose Evans Gordon. On Monday’s Judge Gordon sees the people for their first trial date. It will be a date where people come before the Judge to plead guilty or not guilty in their case. If they plead not guilty their case is then set for trial.
Cases involving arrests being on site by a police officer are scheduled for one date. Cases involving arrests because someone has signed an arrest warrants are set for another trial date.
Persons which have fines and costs due and not paid those are scheduled before the Judge. If they have not paid those fines and costs they appear before the Judge to explain why they have not been paid. If the excuse is legitimate and additional time is needed to pay usually Judge Gordon works with them.
The people in the system live payday to payday, with the same bills as those in managing of the court system. If they work construction and it rains, they do not get to work, but their bills go on. The Judges usually keep that in mind as long as the person is making efforts to resolve the issues.
A big court day and week in this area.