EUFAULA ATTORNEY ALLEGED TO BE INVOLVED IN A SCHEME TO FRAME FORMER BAMA FOOTBALL PLAYER FOR MURDER
Posted by: Jon Carroll
Date: Jan 24 2015 9:46 AM
New information has surfaced regarding an upcoming capital murder trial in Barbour county, where Eufaula attorney and former policeman, Jeff Compton, was allegedly involved in a scheme to withhold evidence from one of his clients in order to insure the client would be forced to take a plea bargain. Former Alabama football player Will Dickerson’s trial is scheduled on Feb 2 for the robbery and the murder of Willie Pugh, both men are from Clio.
Mr Dickerson has repeatedly claimed he is innocent and that his life and his family members are at grave risk. Since Dickerson’s arrest there have been multiple unsolved murders in the small town of a thousand people, most recently the brutal murder of the Police Chief’s father.Dickerson has been willing to take a polygraph test since the morning he was arrested over three years ago on Jan 14th 2012. The sheriff’s department, and the district attorney, have both refused to give him that opportunity.
Court records reveal Mr. Dickerson was formally indicted by a grand jury on Jan. 3rd 2013. However, in recent months information has surfaced that district attorney Ben Reeves withheld key physical evidence from that grand jury, that if shared, Dickerson would not have been indicted. In confidence, members of the court system and law enforcement who feel justice is not being served have confirmed this and been willing to share multiple examples of the evidence. Despite this, it is unclear if any of this potentially exculpatory evidence will even be allowed into the trial by the judge for the jury to examine.
Court records indicate Dickerson’s previous attorney, Jeff Compton, was appointed by Circuit Court Judge Burt Smithart on Jan 10, 2013. Compton was later removed after a letter was written to the presiding judge and Alabama Judiciary Commission, by the investigator assigned to the case, describing that he believed Compton was suppressing evidence and putting witnesses’s lives at risk. One key witness is already believed to have been murdered in Clio.
According to a confidential source in the 3rd judicial district, speaking on the strict condition of anonymity, Compton is believed to have worked to insure that Dickerson would not have access to the evidence the prosecutor had against him, and most importantly, documents and physical evidence that could prove he did not murder Willie Pugh.
Compton, it is alleged by the source, agreed to not inform Dickerson of multiple motions and hearings, and of the state law that clearly allowed him to examine the evidence. (see Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedures 16.1 referenced below)
Some of the evidence, had Dickerson known about it, would likely clear him of all charges and further his resolve to not consider a plea deal for an alleged crime when evidence existed that would clear him. The official shared confidential court documents that reveal on Feb 14th, 2013, Compton filed a motion without his client’s knowledge to inspect and examine the evidence that the district attorney had. I checked with Mr. Dickerson and he confirmed that he was never made aware of the motion, nor did he attend any hearing.
The documents provided show that Jeff Compton filed a motion for Mr. Dickerson to be allowed access to the discovery documents of the case and examine the physical evidence the sheriff’s department and district attorney had in their possession. The rule his own attorney quotes in the motion filed , Rule 16.1 , (linked below in its entirety) from the state rules of criminal procedure. “There can be no rational way for a licensed lawyer to misunderstand the meaning of rule 16.1 . Its obvious what happened and the court documents back this up”.
Jeff Compton would have had to have quoted a civil rule of criminal procedure in a formal motion to the court …. but actually never actually read it. Thats just not possible.
Excerpt from motion filed by Compton on Feb. 14, 2013
It is alleged it at this time that Jeff Compton agreed to a deal to pressure the defendant into a plea bargain and to hide the legal proceedings from Mr. Dickerson. Compton, a former Columbus Georgia police officer, reportedly had been under financial pressure with a struggling law practice and “was eager to please the powers that could control his fate as a lawyer in the county”. The source of the influence was not identified.
What I have been able to verify in regard to these allegations through an ALACOURT (Alabama Court Records Access Database) search is that the documents revealed by the source match the official court record. What this could prove is that the attorney in charge of the case - Jeff Compton, did, as a matter of legal record, deny knowledge and withhold information from his client while he simultaneously advised his client he should take a plea bargain. This was confirmed by Will Dickerson himself when I asked him. It is also 100% clear that, according to the law, Compton quoted in his motion that this gives Will Dickerson the right to examine the evidence. It is also without any doubt this order was granted by the document Judge Burt Smithart signed on July 22, 2013.
I am not a lawyer, just a poor uneducated cowman with a little blog and pen, but its fairly obvious to me multiple laws appear to be violated in such acts. In addition to disbarment, if shared with the Alabama State Bar and the Supreme Court of Alabama, and the US Attorney’s office, Compton could face criminal charges. The potential criminal acts, however, do not stop at Compton’s door but extend to some elected members of the 3rd judicial circuit.
To fully understand the extent of the potential corruption revealed, you have to somehow imagine that an attorney ( Jeff Compton) filed a motion to request a hearing that his client ( Will Dickerson) was never told about. The presiding circuit judge (Burt Smithart) then scheduled a hearing and issued an order to transport the prisoner. On the appointed day of the hearing a deputy sheriff was dispatched to the county jail to collect Mr. Dickerson. However, the car returned empty without the prisoner to the hearing. Oddly, somehow the deputy did not notice he had forgotten Mr. Dickerson.
Meanwhile, after the hearing was underway, strangely the judge (Burt Smithart), the district attorney (Ben Reeves), and Dickerson’s attorney (Jeff Compton) all failed to notice that….Will Dickerson was not present. They hold the hearing and Judge Smithart rules in favor of the defendant, that no one seems to notice, is not even present. The deputy then returns to the jail with an empty car, transporting…..nobody.
The hearing held was approved by Judge Smithart and he subsequently ordered that Mr. Dickerson be allowed to examine the physical evidence that District Attorney Ben Reeves had from the investigation that is to be used at trial. (see full document below)
Once again an order is issued to transport Mr Dickerson, this time to the Eufaula courthouse. The sheriff’s department dispatches a car to the jail where , again for some strange reason, the deputy forgets the actual prisoner he is sent to collect. Driving in an empty car for 20 miles or so, the deputy mysteriously fails to realize Mr Dickerson…was left at the jail.
Now if all this was not unbelievable enough, here is where it starts to get really weird. Try in your wildest imagination to envision a court’s conference room where the circuit judge, district attorney, his assistant, his investigator, the sheriff’s department lead investigator, and a deputy, along with Mr Dickerson’s attorney are all present. The meeting that took place on Aug 27, 2013, is the result of the court order for the defendant, Will Dickerson, to exercise his legal right to inspect and examine the evidence to be used against him at trial. The law states it should occur within 14 days, not 187.
In front of the courthouse in downtown Eufaula is a sheriff’s department car which has just been used to transport…well…nobody actually across the county. Then unbelievably as it may seem, not one of these men noticed that…..Mr Dickerson was not present. You literally could not make this story up. The court documents appear to prove this and are not in dispute by the relevant parties.
Just to get this straight, an elected district attorney (Ben Reeves) and a licensed attorney representing his client ( Jeff Compton) failed to notice that the person the meeting was set up for, by court order mind you…was missing. Nonetheless they proceeded with the meeting anyway in strict violation of state law and the court order and any hint of ethics. Mr Dickerson sat in his cell completely unaware of the meeting set up for him.
When he later asked his attorney, Jeff Compton, about seeing the evidence, Compton told him legally he could not see it, I personally witnessed this conversation and am willing to testify under oath. Mr Dickerson was not allowed access to the discovery files of his case. In the subsequent years he sat in jail at times with no attorney and no way to communicate with the outside world.
Even more disturbing than all of this is that over three years later, he still has not had access to these documents. It was only on Wednesday of this week that he got to actually see what evidence the district attorney has. The law states plainly 14 days. In a cruel twist of fate instead of 14 days after the request made years ago, he got to see the evidence 14 days before a trial takes place that may end his life. These are the type of people we have controlling our justice system and without question the public deserves the right to know the appalling depth of corruption.
At this point no one with a straight face and any sense of right and wrong can possibly say Will Dickerson will get a fair trial in Barbour county. Nor should a judge ( Burt Smithart) and district attorney ( Ben Reeves) , who let this take place in the first place, be allowed to hear this case. They should be, both witnesses in this trial, and possibly defendants in a future criminal prosecution.
Mr. Dickerson’s case is scheduled to start in 10 days. He, while sitting in a 6 x 9 concrete cell with nothing but his Bible, has still not had access to the discovery documents in his case.
If you believe Mr Dickerson’s rights were violated, I strongly urge you to call the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the United States, Ms. Vanita Gupta, at (202) 514-4609