The Revealer Connection

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There is a history of this kind of blatant neglect by past governments to ignore wrongdoings, thus condoning the flawed practices. This blatant neglect clearly denies the people the security and protection they deserve. The time is now for the present City Council to hold employees accountable for the people’s resources; and punish perpetrators for their fraudulent actions.

Our second point is that Magistrate (Clerk) Hamilton can be credited for this overall report to you. Perhaps, if she had been a bit more courteous, polite and cooperative, we would have researched court practices and dockets and let other things be, however, the mere notion that a city employee would complicate the process for us to obtain public documents was simply too much to bare. History makes it clear that people like us have no rights that City Magistrates, or Judges in the 1930s, 40s & 50s were bound to respect, but how dare Ms. Hamilton violate Frazier’s right to public court documents by complicating things for him in the 21st Century? Furthermore, he was the only citizen whom Ms. Hamilton is disrespecting and poorly serving, we may have overlooked her rude disposition and/or arrogance. But, this is not the case. Many expressions of displeasure and dissatisfaction have been shared with the REVEALER about Ms. Hamilton’s attitude, actions and behavior in her role as Magistrate (Clerk). This evidence will be revealed during the appropriate inquiry.

Third, we must be conscious of the power—and resulting impact—that the Magistrate (Clerk) and Municipal Judge have over the people. Remember now, the Magistrate (Clerk) has the authority to issue warrants for the arrest of a people. Arrest means that the person is stripped of his or her freedom. When the warrant is issued to the police, usually based upon a complaint made to the police department, and the police officer locates the person, notifies him or her of the warrant and flips the handcuffs on, that person’s freedom is gone. The Magistrate (Clerk)’s position is no place for an individual with a bad attitude, or the inability to function in a humane and impartial manner. The Magistrate (Clerk)’s reputation, character and professional integrity must be above the norm.


The following is an example of past practices and methods of operation that contributed to the embarrassment and the mistreatment of a reputable person by the system that the Magistrate (Clerk) represents:

A local attorney was interested in the welfare of a local child. The child needed medication that the family could not afford. The attorney had the prescription filled and took it to the family’s home. The attorney gave the medication to a family member and left. One member of the child’s family apparently had differences with the attorney and decided to make an issue of the attorney coming to their home. The individual called the police and made a complaint. The responding officer made a Criminal Trespass complaint. The magistrate (clerk) issued a warrant for the arrest of the attorney, based solely upon the word of the complaining family member. The attorney was never interviewed by the police or the magistrate (clerk). Top police officials assigned the arrest warrant to a former police sergeant to serve on the attorney. The sergeant served the warrant on the attorney, but was wise and discreet enough to summons the attorney to court, rather than physically book her at the county jail. The case was dismissed by the court. A City Councilman was overheard saying that the action was intended to teach the attorney a lesson.

The aforementioned situation could have been avoided had the police officers or magistrate (clerk) contacted the attorney and obtained both sides of the story. However, it appears that there was malicious intent by most people and agencies that were involved. It is apparent that the above incident was not isolated then, nor is it now. It appears that dysfunctional behavior has been institutionalized in the City of Tuskegee; and the “will” of some elected officials to tackle and correct the problem is just not there.

The Municipal Judge’s power over the people is awesome. The judge has the power and legal authority to “throw the book” at an accused person. This, of course, does not mean that the judge can assault a defendant with a book from the bench, but the saying does mean that the judge can levy fines and incarcerate people to the fullest extent of the law, and in some cases, beyond, making their lives a living hell. On the other hand, the judge can ignore good evidence, for or against defendants, based upon whom they are, or upon which attorney is representing them, showing a total disregard for the law and never find himself answerable to the people. Therefore, the judge, too, must not be an individual with a bad attitude, or inability to function in a humane and impartial manner. The judge’s reputation, character and professional integrity must be above the norm.

It should be noted that Judge Bulls is, in fact, serving as Municipal Court Judge by default. This opinion is based upon the fact that Alabama Law states that Municipal Court Judges must be appointed by a majority of the City Council. This never happened during your term on the Council. The present City Council went through a flawed process in its attempt to appoint its Municipal Judge. Mayor Johnny Ford and Councilwoman-at-large Mae Doris Williams voted to appoint Judge Bulls and Councilwomen Georgette White Moon and Willie Louse Fields voted against his appointment. Councilman Lutalo K. Aryee abstained. Two “yes” votes do not constitute a majority of the Council. So the question is why is Judge Bulls still on the bench? The City Council has not given this matter due diligence. Such inaction by city government reaps hardships on all of the citizens who are subjected to the inappropriate methods and poor
performance of Judge Bulls. This is a serious blunder by the Council, especially Aryee, who neglected his responsibility to standup and be counted on an issue as serious as the appointment of the city’s judge. The people have been denied good representation on this critical decision. The Municipal Court needs a judge whose professional integrity reflects fairness, impartiality and justice for all of the people, at all times, including the least of these.

COURTROOM OBSERVATIONS

Our determination to monitor the Municipal Court system was sparked by Magistrate (Clerk) Angela Hamilton’s disregard and lack of respect for Frazier’s right as a citizen to request and receive court dockets, which are public records. She ultimately provided the dockets, but not without a hassle, rudeness and disrespect. we cannot tolerate such poor service when the Magistrate (Clerk) is being paid by the people to provide quality service for everybody in the community. Moreover, as stated before, Frazier discovered that he was not the only citizen being disrespected and treated unfairly.

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Another factor that motivated The Revealer Connection begin monitoring the activities of the Municipal Court was the harsh treatment that a defendant, Ms. Carmellia Graves, who was so disrespected by the Judge that the City Prosecutor was moved to defend her right to pursue justice in Municipal Court. City Prosecutor, Jerry M. Blevins, wrote in his complaint to the Judicial Inquiry Commission on August 9, 2006:

“On July 13, 2006, the date Ms. Carmillia Graves (the victim of the assault in the Woods matter) appeared before Judge Bulls. . . Judge Bulls undeservingly treated her with contempt, disrespect, and a very condescending and rude manner.”

In addition to the above misconduct, Prosecutor Blevins wrote:

“After publicly belittling Ms. Graves for seeking the Municipal Court’s assistance in collecting her court-ordered restitution, Judge Bulls then reduced the restitution amount by over $1,000.00. Woods paid the reduced restitution amount, in the amount of $1,697.33, to the Municipal Court Clerk on July 13, 2006.”

“Now that the City is challenging the restitution reduction in Circuit Court, in apparent anger over the challenge, Judge Bulls has set a hearing for August 17, 2006, and has indicated at this hearing he intends on vacating Woods’s conviction, reopening the criminal case, and starting all over. Judge Bulls has further ordered the Municipal Court Clerk, Angie Hamilton, not to remit the restitution funds paid by Woods on July 13, 2006, to Ms. Graves.”

The prosecutor believes that Judge Bulls’ actions violate Canons 1, 2A, 2B, 3A(1) and 3A(3) of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.

It may not be relevant to some, but we feel obligated to point out that this is a white male prosecutor working in defense of a black female defendant. This is, in our opinion, how justice is supposed to work: equal, fair and impartial. And it does not surprise us that Judge Bulls and Magistrate (Clerk) Hamilton are upset, and are probably a part of the underground scheme to get rid of Attorney Blevins. After all, the City’s court system has operated wrong for so long that its officials apparently do not know what is right or just anymore. Judge Bulls has been on the bench since his initial appointment in 1999, and has not been re-appointed since then, as required by law. Both the Judge and Magistrate (Clerk) have treated people any way they have wanted to for so long that it seems any just moves by the prosecutor—or anybody else—threatens their methods of operation.

Judge Bulls and Magistrate (Clerk) Hamilton held the $1,697.33 in restitution for nearly two months, despite numerous pleads from Ms. Graves for the money to be released. After many different excuses, the money (check) was finally mailed to Ms. Graves. The same old shuffler game was played in this situation, too. The Judge instructed Ms. Hamilton to release the money, and she (Hamilton) made a number of excuses that prevented Ms. Graves from receiving the money within a reasonable time after the Court’s instructions.

The aforementioned factors prompted The Revealer Connection to monitor courtroom processes, procedures and practices in an attempt to determine the quality, or lack thereof, of the services provided by the Municipal Court of Tuskegee. Our main focus is on courtroom decorum, fairness and consistency in sentences, unity among agencies and public attitudes toward the Court.

OUR INVESTIGATOR’S EXPERIENCES WITH THE MUNICIPAL COURT OF TUSKEGEE ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Frazier went to the Magistrate (Clerk)’s office and requested a court docket. The Magistrate (Clerk), Ms. Hamilton, advised him that the docket was not available, and that it would not be prepared until Thursday morning, just before court begins.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

He attended Court and the following were some of his observations:

1. No public relations process of informing the general public of court policies, procedures, or expectations;
2. Courtroom decorum was poor to pitiful;
3. The Judge was not dressed in a robe, causing him to not look like a judge, nor did he act like a professional judge;
4. Trials were conducted with everybody standing in front of the bench;
5. Judge constantly admonished defendants not to lean on his bench, but no sign is posted which could alleviate the need to admonish people publicly;
6. The Magistrate (Clerk) ordered everybody in the courtroom to turn-off cellular phones, but the Judge kept his own and answered two calls during court proceedings;
7. Defendants were denied entry into the courtroom and held in contempt for not arriving at the Court before 9:00 a. m. Most of them were fined $25.00 as a late fee, even though no such signs are posted in or around the Court, nor have any public notices been published as far as I can determine;
8. A defendant who assaulted a Head Start teacher in the classroom was found “not guilty,” despite overwhelming evidence against her, including her admission of the assault, coupled with a weak claim of self-defense. Notably, the defense attorney in that particular case was Attorney Fred Gray, Jr.;
9. Some defendants are disrespected by the Court. For example: Judge Bulls “talked at” two defendants during their hearings, threatened them with jail terms, placed them in police custody, and later set them free to go. The humiliation and disrespect of those two defendants by the Judge were presumably uncalled for;
10. Poor organization of the court docket. Several cases were reset at the end of the court proceeding, because the Judge was in a rush to go somewhere around noontime, inconveniencing all others who were involved in the process;
11. No signs are posted, or instructions given, restricting weapons in the courtroom, in spite of national reports of courtroom tragedies;
12. Police officers are consistently late, or do not appear, and defendants are forced to wait for them to arrive, or their cases are continued;
13. The Magistrate (Clerk) appears in the courtroom without a prepared docket. She works from a stack of files and traffic citations, and everybody else is without any courtroom agenda, including the Prosecutor, other attorneys, media and the public;
14. The Magistrate (Clerk) eats a very chewy candy, which appears to be Now ‘n Later, during court proceedings;
15. No consistency in sentencing in some cases (Heart Start teacher’s case is one example).

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