The Alabama Attorney General's Office is putting pressure on Limestone County Circuit Court to set an arraignment date for a district judge indicted last month on multiple charges.
Douglas Lee Patterson, 37, is facing three felonies: use of official position or office for personal gain, first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly and third-degree theft of property. He was arrested and charged Dec. 12, 2019, after a grand jury found there was adequate evidence to formally charge him.
According to the motion submitted Tuesday by the state, prosecutors attempted “pre-arraignment negotiations” with Patterson, but were unsuccessful. Prosecutors now say there is no reason to continue to delay Patterson's arraignment.
The motion also asks for Patterson's trial to begin at the earliest date for two reasons — the nature of the charges against Patterson and the fact he is still getting paid.
“The charges in this case raise serious questions as to whether the defendant flagrantly abused his position as a lawyer and a public official,” the motion states. “The Limestone County public deserves to know whether one of its local public officials is guilty or innocent of the charges returned by the grand jury.”
The motion goes on to say though Patterson is currently suspended, he continues to receive his salary and will until he is either convicted or resigns. It also says the other judges have “had to work extra” to ensure the courts proceed as normal during Patterson's suspension.
“ … If the defendant is innocent of these charges, then his name should be cleared as soon as possible,” the motion states. “Likewise, if the defendant is guilty of these charges, then he should be formally removed as a judge and stripped of all benefits, including his salary.”
The charges against Patterson
The first count — use of official position or office for personal gain — arises from Patterson’s service as a district court judge, which includes his supervising the county’s juvenile court system. It alleges Patterson used his position as a judge to obtain $47,008.24 from the county’s juvenile court services fund.
The second count — first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly — alleges Patterson breached a fiduciary duty to Charles Hardy in order to obtain all or part of $47,800 in Hardy’s conservatorship account.
The third count — third-degree theft of property — alleges Patterson knowingly obtained or exerted unauthorized control over or knowingly obtained by deception control over a sum of money that exceeded $499 but was less than $1,500 and that belonged to the estate of Rudolph Allen.
The first two charges are Class B felonies each punishable upon conviction by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000. The theft charge is a Class D felony punishable by a year and one day or up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $7,500.