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Investigators allegedly told judge spanked prisoners

MOBILE (AP) — Authorities investigating suspended Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas have received complaints that he spanked some prisoners in a room at the courthouse, according to news reports Wednesday.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission has already filed 30 charges against Thomas for violating Alabama’s canons of conduct for judges, including helping his cousin manipulate a jail sentence and taking cases away from other Mobile County judges without their permission.

Thomas faces trial Oct. 29 before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary and, if the charges are proven, he could be removed from office. But as the trial nears, the investigation of Thomas is apparently continuing.

The Press-Register quoted unidentified courthouse sources as saying authorities are investigating allegations made by several young men who said they were removed from the county jail and taken to a room at the courthouse, where Thomas ordered them to drop their pants and then spanked them with a wooden paddle.

“This is news to me. I don’t have any comment,” Thomas told the newspaper.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission meets in private like a grand jury to review complaints against judges and decide whether to refer the complaints to the Court of the Judiciary. The court then holds a public trial.

When the Court of the Judiciary scheduled Thomas’ trial for Oct. 29, it indicated that the charges against Thomas could change before the trial date.

The court said the Judicial Inquiry Commission should notify the court of any amendments to the charges against Thomas within 10 days after the
commission’s September meeting.

Jenny Garrett, executive director of the Judicial Inquiry Commission, said Wednesday the commission will meet Sept. 21, but she is forbidden by law from commenting on any case.

If the commission does modify the charges against Thomas, that would become public when the commission notifies the Court of the Judiciary.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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