JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBMA) — Stern words from a Jefferson County Judge who called the credibility of Brookside Police 'garbage.' Judge Shanta Owens made the assertion Tuesday morning before dismissing traffic cases in her courtroom from the embattled police department.
Judge Owens said she will have a real problem allowing any case to stand if a Brookside officer is the sole witness. In court she said we must restore public trust.
The Judge said her comments pertain to tickets issued prior to Interim Police Chief Henry Irby being appointed. Irby replaced Brookside Police Chief Mike Jones who resigned after allegations of aggressive ticketing, harassment, and intimidation surfaced against Brookside officers.
Defense attorney Bill Dawson argued the tickets were not even properly signed or notarized. Instead of officer's names, there were initials like Agent S or W.
Brookside attorney Mark Parnell disputed those allegations. But in the end the judge threw out around ten cases with possibly more to come.
Defense attorneys call the judge's ruling 'courageous' and the right thing to do with so many of these tickets tainted by police misconduct. Now they explain federal civil rights cases can begin.
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"You need a successful outcome in a criminal case in order for a civil case to be viable. What Judge Owens did is open the floodgates for false arrest cases to go forward," remarked Attorney Terrell McCants.
Montague Minnifield who is a former Birmingham Police Officer is one of several people with pending federal lawsuits. "They have some who have probably made good arrests, but you may have to throw them all in the trash can. That's what's made this place stink so bad," said Minnifield.
Lawyers with the Institute for Justice based out of Washington, DC were at Tuesday's court hearing. They told defendants they will work to challenge excessive fees and fines on a broad level.
ABC3340 News has requested information from Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr about pending felony cases that his office would prosecute from Brookside. We have not heard back by news time.
Meanwhile lawsuits continue to mount against the Town of Brookside. Wednesday, an amended class action lawsuit was filed.