Judge stops ‘egregious abuses’ by Harpersville city courtPublished 9:53am Friday, July 13, 2012
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
HARPERSVILLE – A Shelby County circuit judge called the Harpersville Municipal Court a “debtors prison” in which the court practices “judicially sanctioned extortion racket.”
Judge Hub Harrington wrote the order July 11 after reviewing the deposition testimony and other exhibits on July 4.
“At a time when the entire country was celebrating an individuals’ ‘unalienable rights, that amount these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’… this court was appalled to discover that these unalienable rights have for some time been routinely denied by the City of Harpersville,” Harrington wrote.
According to the order, defendants’ depositions presented “virtually undisputed evidence” that the criminal defendants in the Harpersville Municipal Court have been subjected to “repeated and ongoing violations of almost every safeguard afforded by the United States Constitution, the laws of the State of Alabama and the Rules of Criminal Procedure.”
The order stated the Harpersville Municipal Court and Judicial Corrections Services, a private probation company, placed defendants on “extended” probation for many years beyond the two-year maximum, as well as charging “unconscionable fines and fees.”
Harrington listed 12 “egregious abuses” committed by the Harpersville Municipal Court and JCS.
Harrington wrote that defendants’ attorneys acknowledged the ‘mistakes” the Harpersville court committed, and the City of Harpersville pledged to the court that an “immediate review would be undertaken to correct these ‘mistakes.’”
As the City has not provided the review or proposed procedures, the court has ordered a preliminary injunction hearing Aug. 20 in which both sides may provide additional evidence. Mayor Theoangelo Perkins and members of the Harpersville Town Council will be present in the hearing.
“Most distressing is that these abuses have been perpetrated by what is supposed to be a court of law,” Harrington wrote.
Harrington declined to comment further.
“I’m not going to comment on ongoing litigation, but I am looking forward to the day that I can,” Perkins said.