Another judge appointed to handle initial stages of Acker case
Published 10:52 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Alabama Chief Justice Charles Malone recently appointed St. Clair County District Court Judge Alan Furr to handle the initial stages of the case of a longtime Alabaster teacher who has been charged with several counts of molesting girls.
Malone signed an order appointing Furr to handle the preliminary stages of Daniel Acker Jr’s case at the request of St. Clair County Presiding Circuit Court Judge James Hill.
Malone appointed Hill as an outside judge to handle Acker’s case in early February, a few weeks after Shelby County Circuit Court judges Daniel Reeves, Bill Bostick, Hub Harrington and Sonny Conwill and Shelby County District Court judges Ron Jackson and Jim Kramer all recused themselves from handling the case.
Hill said he did not ask to be recused from Acker’s case, but instead requested Malone appoint Furr to handle the preliminary stages of the case.
“When a person is arrested, there are three stages their case goes through. The first, the preliminary hearing, is handled in district court. If a grand jury brings an indictment, the case then moves to Circuit Court,” Hill said. “I was initially appointed to be the district court judge for that. I called (Malone) and said ‘You want me to handle the district (portion of the case)?’ And he said no.”
Hill said Malone then appointed Furr to handle the initial stages of the case. If a grand jury brings an indictment against Acker, the case will then move to Circuit Court and will be handled by Hill.
As of Feb. 15, the Shelby County Circuit Court clerk’s office confirmed Acker’s case was still tentatively set to be heard in the Shelby County Courthouse, although Acker’s attorneys previously said they likely will seek to move the trial venue. As of Feb. 15, no hearing date had been set for Acker.
Acker currently is being held in the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling $745,000. He has been charged with six counts of sexual abuse after police said he allegedly admitted to molesting more than 20 girls during his teaching tenure in several Alabaster schools.
On Jan. 10, Pell City District Attorney Richard Minor was appointed to prosecute the case, a few days after Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owens asked to be recused from prosecuting Acker.
Acker is the son of Shelby County Commissioner Daniel Acker Sr.
Owens said he asked to be recused from the case because of his friendship with the elder Acker Sr. The Shelby County Commission funds Owens’ office.