The Washington Times - October 5, 2009, 04:10PM

 

Alabama Circuit Court judge Herman Thomas has been under scrutiny since 2001 when charges surfaced that Mr. Thomas offered leniency on a case in exchange for sex from an inmate.  The charges were dismissed, but other inmates began claiming the Mobile, Alabama Judge made them strip to their undergarments and then spanked them.  Some inmates alleged he forced them to perform sex acts.

Judge Thomas is facing 103 felony charges, reports WKRG News. :

Jury selection began Monday in the sex abuse and extortion trial involving a former judge.

Herman Thomas is facing 103 felony charges stemming from allegations that he forced inmates to perform sexual acts under the threat of being thrown back in jail and in some cases in exchange for leniency in the courtroom.

 Fifteen inmates are willing to testify against the judge and the trial is expected to last a number of weeks.  Mr. Thomas’ defense attorney is calling the charges false and the accusers “lying felons.”

The Washington Times spoke to the president of the Alabama NAACP Edward Vaughn about judge Thomas’ case.  Supporting the local Mobile branch of the NAACP, Mr. Vaughn is critical of the “method and manner” in which judge Thomas was handled as opposed to white individuals of the same stature who are charged with same or similar crimes.: AUDIO

“And I have been down there [to Mobile] and I have talked with judge Thomas and I’ve looked into his case as far as I can see and I can’t say one way or the other but I just want to make sure his constitutional rights are upheld and the manner and method in which they went after him I don’t believe was the way they go after other elected officials or men or women of stature in that particular area, so that really troubled me.”

While Mr. Vaughn is saying race is behind how Mr. Thomas’ case is being handled, he is unconcerned with the fact that all the inmates accusing Mr. Thomas are black themselves.:AUDIO

“You got to remember that it was a black man who turned in John Brown, and he was trying to help free them and they turned him in.  It was black people who cut off Nat Turner in his revolt, so you always have blacks who are willing to make those kinds of statements. I just don’t know, but I think the truth of  the case will eventually come out and then we’ll know what really is true.  I mean it could be true  it could not be.  I’m not totally sure what it is.I just know that the manner in which they handle him is not the manner  and method they handle whites charged  in the same situations.  They usually get a much better more constitutionally correct treatment than judge Thomas has gotten.”

While Mr. Vaughn will admit he is not as familiar with the merits case as much as the local Mobile NAACP branch, he will say that blacks are more than likely to be the victims of racism much more in these situations than whites are.  

Conveniently, however, he points out  Democrat Alabama former governor Don Sielegman.  Mr. Vaughn will say the former governor is one of the few white men whose constitutional rights are being violated.  Mr. Siegelman was prosecuted by the Bush justice department in 2006 on bribery charges and sentenced to seven years in federal prison.  He is free on bond while he appeals, and has become a liberal martyr of some sort.  What about the constitutional rights of the accusers, though?: AUDIO

“If they want to testify, that’s fine, but I know many times that prisoners can be made to do all sorts of things.  I’ve seen case after case with that, but they do have constitutional rights, I agree with that 100 percent, and as I have said, I’m not totally sure of the merits of the case,” said Mr. Vaughn. 

 Appointed to the Circuit Court in 1999, Judge Thomas stepped down from the bench in 2007 when new allegations began to arise.

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