Batiste was suspended with pay on April 19 after retired presiding judge Scott Vowell launched a complaint campaign against her. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary is scheduled to hear her case on July 29.
The Alabama NAACP says in a statement that the matter should not get that far. From the NAACP statement, which can be viewed in full at the end of this post:
On November 2, 2010, over 107,000 people elected Dorothea Batiste as one of our three Domestic Relations Judges. Immediately, she implemented procedures that substantially increased the number of cases heard each month, increasing the number of closed cases each year from 8% to 103%. In a little over two years Judge Batiste handled over 2,800 cases. She implemented standards that protected the children and provided both parents equal voice in the lives of their children.
However, within a few months of being on the bench, Judge Scott Vowell, the Presiding Judge at the time began countless visits to her office, made numerous telephone calls, and demands to change her orders for the benefits of the few; this is not for which we elect Judges. The AL NAACP condemns the politics, race discrimination, harassment, retaliation and attack on Judge Batiste.
The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission suspended Batiste after finding she used her contempt power in an abusive and unlawful fashion. But the NAACP says Batiste acted within the law to help ensure justice for parties who came before her. From the statement:
We are fully aware of the matters put before the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, and the Court of Judiciary and hereby denounce this continued selective prosecution, witch hunt, harassment and absolute abuse of process which Judge Batiste has endured.
The cases presented by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission concern a mother not getting child support, another mother in a custody battle needing her witness, a man who died without ever seeing his portion of the martial assets, and another mother in a custody battle needing a witness so that her children did not have to testify. Judge Batiste used the contempt powers of the Court in an effort to enforce these orders of the Court.
The NAACP receives complaints monthly concerning the unfairness of judges, and when the complaints are submitted to Presiding Judges or other oversight organizations, their complaints seem to fall on [deaf] ears. Yet you have a Judge who is trying to be firm but fair, and she finds herself being suspended from the bench. We demand that Circuit Court Judge Dorothea Batiste be reinstated to the Bench, immediately.
The NAACP puts the Batiste matter in context with recent events connected to Alabama history:
For the past 6 months, the State of Alabama and the City of Birmingham [have] commemorated the Civil Rights Movement and the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. This movement began long before the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, such events as Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her seat to white passengers, which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Demonstrations for voting rights, justice and equality in Birmingham led to a movement that Alabama had not seen before, because people could no longer stand by in silence. The AL NAACP shall not be silent in this grave injustice that has occurred to Circuit Court Judge Dorothea Batiste.