Columbiana mayor issues pardon

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe has used the power of a mayoral pardon to help a woman who pled guilty to a misdemeanor 11 years ago.

According to a police report narrative, on May 5, 1994 Jennifer Reed (then Jones) asked a Columbiana police officer to examine a car that she claimed was damaged by her boyfriend.

When the officer said he saw nothing wrong with the car, she apparently drove her car into her boyfriend’s vehicle. Her boyfriend punched out the side window of her car, and she drove away.

Reed reportedly pled guilty to reckless endangerment in municipal court and paid a $321.50 fine.

Columbiana prosecutor Joey Walden who also served the city in 1994 recalled that Reed pled guilty to a misdemeanor at the time.

He stressed that municipal court does not handle felony cases.

&8220;She had a charge and pled guilty without an attorney,&8221; Walden said.

At the time, he said, he was not sure what she pled guilty to. But Walden said, &8220;If she had an attorney or had talked to me about it, it might well have had a different outcome.&8221;

He said he had known Reed and her family and she has not had a problem before or since.

Walden said she was an honest and hard-working person.

According to Lowe, Reed was 22 at the time of the misdemeanor. He said he issued the pardon on Nov. 22.

Lowe said the authority to pardon has been given by writers of the United States and Alabama constitutions to presidents and mayors, respectively. He said Reed proved a hardship to him.

&8220;I have to believe that this authority was granted to prevent the rare but possible situation in which a person could suffer hardships beyond those intended as punishment for his or her crime. I believe that to be true in this case.

&8220;I had never met Ms. Reed prior to the day I granted the pardon.

I preferred not to meet her so that I could consider only the facts and not the personalities of the issue at hand.

&8220;Furthermore, Ms. Reed is not now a resident of Columbiana, so there is less chance to mistake my decision as something less than an act of compassion where compassion is warranted.&8221;

Lowe said he was aware his action could cause others to request the same consideration.

However, he said, &8220;I can honestly state that I am not considering, nor do I expect to consider, taking similar action in the foreseeable future.

However, I do believe that I had good cause for my decision.

&8220;It was the right thing to do, and I am honored that I had the opportunity to help a person who made a mistake, learned from that mistake and has demonstrated, for many years, that she is an important and positive influence in her community,&8221; Lowe said.

He said he is comfortable with the decision to pardon Reed.

&8220;Once I make a decision based on prayer, research and advice from people I trust, I don’t look back. Whether it’s downtown renovation, personnel actions or mayoral prerogative: If it’s the right thing to do, then I do it and go on to the next issue that needs my attention.

&8220;That’s what the people of Columbiana hired me to do,&8221; Lowe said