The judge appointed to hear the state's case against Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely denied three motions filed recently by Blakely's legal team.
Judge Pride Tompkins on Friday denied a motion for the court to dismiss the 13-count indictment against Blakely and to rule the Alabama Ethic Act unconstitutional. Tompkins also denied a motion to dismiss Count 9 of the indictment based on a statute of limitation violation.
Tompkins also ruled against a motion requesting the state reorganize the files provided to Blakely's legal team for discovery. Blakely's attorneys claimed the Alabama Attorney General's Office had been haphazard with its approach to discovery, which it referred to as a “data dump.”
Finally, Tompkins issued an order that both sides abide by Rule 16.4 of discovery, which ensures the privacy of any third parties referenced in discovery documents.
Pointed responses issued by the AG's office earlier this week attacked an earlier motion by Blakely to paint the ethics law as “vague” and “overbroad.” To that end, Blakely's attorneys argued, the indictment against him should be dismissed.
Tompkins, a retired Colbert County judge, was appointed to hear the case by the Alabama Supreme Court after all four Limestone County judges recused. Blakely's first appearance before Tompkins will be 1:30 p.m. Tuesday when he is arraigned at the Limestone County Courthouse.
The charges against Blakely
A Limestone County grand jury returned the 13-count indictment Aug. 21 against Blakely. Twelve counts are felonies, and one is a misdemeanor. The first four counts charge Blakely with four separate thefts from his campaign account totaling $11,000. Counts 5–10 charge him with theft or ethics charges stemming from him illegally taking money from Limestone County funds, including from the pistol permit fund.
Counts 12 and 13 charge the sheriff with using his official position or office to acquire interest-free loans. Specifically, Count 12 charges Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans in the form of a $50,000 cashier’s check, a $22,189.68 credit or both.
Count 13 charges Blakely with using his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans by taking money from a safe that was used to store the personal funds of inmates at the Limestone County Jail.
Robert Tuten, one of Blakely's attorneys, previously said the theft allegations are not true.
“There's no money missing, and all the audits came up exactly as they should have,” he told The News Courier in August.
The charges against Blakely stem from an investigation conducted by the AG's office and the FBI. The Alabama Ethics Commission voted 4-0 last October to refer an ethics complaint against Blakely to the AG's office for investigation. Athens attorney and developer John Plunk, a member of the commission, recused.
In addition to Tuten, Blakely is represented by attorney Mark McDaniel, who previously represented former Gov. Guy Hunt after he was indicted on ethics charges, and attorney Marcus J. Helstowski. All attorneys work out of McDaniel's Huntsville-based firm, McDaniel and McDaniel LLC.