Monday, February 26, 2018

Judge Sibley Reynolds violated courtroom procedure in Charles Todd Henderson perjury case, meaning the guilty verdict should be overturned on appeal


Charles Todd Henderson
The judge in the perjury trial of duly-elected Jefferson County District Attorney Charles Todd Henderson communicated with deliberating jurors outside the presence of the defendant and counsel, sources tell Legal Schnauzer.

That is in keeping with Sibley Reynolds' reputation as perhaps the most corrupt state judge in Alabama -- and there is a lot of competition for that "honor." It also should force an automatic reversal of Henderson's conviction on appeal -- and it could lead to Henderson actually taking the office he earned with a victory over incumbent Brandon Falls in the November 2016 election.

It's a fundamental principle of criminal (and civil) law that a judge cannot communicate with a deliberating jury outside the presence of the defendant and counsel. How important is this principle? A 2015 case from Georgia provides insight:

Unquestionably the trial judge should not in any manner communicate with the jury about the case, in the absence of the accused and his counsel, pending the trial; and the better practice is for the judge to have no communication with the jury on any subject except through the medium of the sworn bailiff in charge of the jury; and the communication should be restricted, in the absence of the accused and his counsel, to matters relating to the comfort and convenience of the jury. There should be no communication which would tend in any manner to prejudice the accused ․; and unless the character of the communication clearly shows that it could not have been prejudicial to the accused, the presumption of law would be that it was prejudicial․ We state again: “[a]ll communications with the jury are to be discouraged except in open court with all persons present․ . . .”

This Court cannot sanction communications of a substantive nature between a trial judge and a jury outside the presence of the defendant and counsel in a criminal trial, and it should not do so in a civil trial as such actions are no less a violation of a party's right to be present during trial. . . . There is a personal element to the right to be present. The right is based not only on what the party can do to the case, but on what the case will do to the party. It is the party's interests that are being determined by the jury and the judge, and it is the party's life that will be directly affected by the outcome of the case.

Why did Reynolds violate such a fundamental rule? We can only think of one reason: He is a rotten, corrupt judge, and he's been treating the rule of law with disdain for so long that he probably has no idea how to handle a case in a lawful manner. And how about this for an oddity: There was no bailiff  on duty at the Henderson trial. Reynolds apparently took that to mean he could act as his own bailiff, handling communications with the jury.

Sibley Reynolds
The case against Henderson has been an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars from the outset -- not to mention an end-around past the will of Jefferson County voters, almost certainly orchestrated by individuals aligned with former governor Bob Riley and his oily son, Rob "Uday" Riley, big supporters of Brandon Fall, Henderson's opponent. (Note: Shortly after his election, Henderson made a public statement that he was going to focus as DA on public-corruption cases; three weeks later,  he was indicted for perjury. Hmmm.) Now, we have Sibley Reynolds adding to the waste by ensuring there a new trial -- assuming the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals applies the law, and that hardly is a given.

Jurors in the Henderson case reportedly had been deliberating for quite some time when they sent word to the court that they were not close to a decision. Reynolds visited the jury room, over objections from Henderson's counsel, and about 30 minutes later, jurors returned (several of them in tears), with a guilty verdict.

Sentencing in the Henderson case is set for March 8, and prosecutors reportedly are seeking six months in the county jail as punishment. That's ironic because prosecutors did not come close to proving guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and chief prosecutor Matt Hart surely knows that -- unless he's as dumb as a turnip. Now we know Henderson likely would never have been convicted without unlawful intervention by Judge Sibley Reynolds.

Will the travesty of a guilty verdict in the Henderson case eventually be overturned, replaced by a lawful not-guilty verdict, so the person who actually won the DA election in Jefferson County can serve as DA? That would involve achieving justice in the Alabama court system, and that never is an easy outcome to reach.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Henderson has the decency to lose to Brandon Falls -- as the Rileys figured would happen -- he never faces a perjury charge.

Anonymous said...

Classic political prosecution.

Anonymous said...

Reynolds just looks stupid. Almost as if he takes pride in it.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, somebody will find ole Sib's carcass floating in the Alabama River someday. Now, that would be justice.

Anonymous said...

Wonder why some of the jurors were in tears. Did they feel Reynolds forced them into a decision that was not supported by the law or facts?

Anonymous said...

Our courts are a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

How about carcasses of Rob and Bob Riley floating in the Alabama River? That would make a nice all-you-eat buffet for the alligators.

Anonymous said...

What is your source on this info of the judge having an ex parte meeting with the jury?

legalschnauzer said...

@8:08 --

Who wants to know?

Anonymous said...

Where is the Alabama Democratic Party on a deal like this? They should be protesting in the street.

Anonymous said...

Go Sibby; just another dirty, corrupt Alabama judge.

Anonymous said...

Roger, how come you aren’t letting comments come through?

legalschnauzer said...

I am letting comments through. As you can see, this post has 12 comments on it. I've always moderated comments -- and those that are ill-informed, pointless, trollish, poorly stated -- tend to get rejected. Nothing new about that.

Carlos Ortigoza said...

That's the only way ole sibby can win, behind peoples' backs. When someone stands up to him and calls him out in front of his face, he puts his head down with guilt and shame. Orange would look great on him. He belongs in jail for his abuse of the law.

Anonymous said...

OMG this man did my divorce and all i can say is OMG. HE ruined my life and im from another state i came there filed my divorce and have not seen or talk to my kids in 10 years and i came there to safely get them from mental ill ex wife who fled my state to run from the law and DFACS. They refused to modify child support i slept in urine there in holding cell in a straight jacket there and each time i fainted from my high blood pressure they would use ammonia nitrate capsules to pop up my nose. I would have warrants wrote up against me while sitting in court just to keep me from getting my kids and i wasted over 14,000 in lawyers who had lunch with him. No kind of justice they discarded all my evidence. Dont go near this place especially if your ex spouse is from there and know him personslly which is a conflict of interest. This mess ruins familys and it needs to stop. It gave me heart problems from stress and anger. My ex didnt show up for court first 2 times then she finally show up 3rd time and he ask her did she want me locked up and i was in clear shock. If they ever decided to let people speak out on him i would be ready but i dont post about it cause i dont want to see his face anymore. DISGUSTING CHARACTER

Carlos Ortigoza said...

Sibley is disgusting and I'd love to help in any possible way I can to disbar this judge. This injustice should have never happened to you.