CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

April 23, 2013

Judge suspended after state commission complaint


Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An Alabama judge has been suspended with pay after the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a complaint against her.

The complaint, filed last week against Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Dorothea Batiste, alleges that she entered unlawful contempt orders for the arrest of parties or witnesses in divorce cases.

An attorney for Batiste denied the allegations in the complaint, saying the charges against her were being led by a former Jefferson County judge. The lawyer, Julian McPhillips, said a judge must have the power to issue contempt charges or lose control of the courtroom.

"The whole thing is a huge travesty of justice," McPhillips said told Al.com.

Batiste was elected in 2010 and took office in January 2011. She is one of three judges presiding over divorces in the Domestic Relations Division of the Jefferson County Circuit Court.

The commission's 38-page complaint against Batiste that outlines what it considers 30 charges of violation of theAlabama Canons of Judicial Ethics. The complaints involve five divorce cases that were before her.

The allegations are based on Batiste's violation of Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics "through her repeated failure in 2011 and 2012 to comply with both Alabama and federal law regarding her exercise of contempt power," the complaint states. It accuses Batiste of entering "unauthorized, unwarranted, and unlawful orders for the arrest and jailing or incarceration of litigants or witnesses."