Judge in Bentley case abruptly recuses; new hearing underway – AL.com

Posted: Friday, April 07, 2017

A Montgomery judge, who this morning heard arguments on whether the impeachment of Gov. Robert Bentley can continue and whether an investigative report about Bentley can be released to the public, abruptly withdrew from the case this afternoon.

Circuit Judge Roman Shaul, who heard argument from Bentley lawyers and from lawyers for the House of Representatives, recused himself after checking with the Judicial Inquiry Commission.

Shaul was appointed by Bentley and once represented former Bentley security officer Ray Lewis, who is an important figure in the investigation. The only conflict he mentions in his court filing is the appointment by Bentley.

Judge Greg Griffin — also a Bentley appointee — was appointed to take the case. He is holding his own hearing now.

All in Alabama political circles today have awaited the report by House lawyer Jack Sharman, which is expected to be highly personal and damning to Bentley, who is facing impeachment over his relationship with a former aide, and apparent efforts to cover it up.

Lawyers for Bentley this morning filed a request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the release of a House Judiciary Committee investigative report.

Shaul, after hearing from both sides, said he was inclined to allow the release of the report. He said he would later consider questions about the impeachment process, but he recused before that could happen. Shaul said he was unsure whether he had any jurisdiction to rule on either matter.

Judge Greg Griffin — also a Bentley appointee — has been assigned to the case. 

Another Montgomery judge, James H. Anderson, filed his notice of recusal from the case this morning.

Sharman, who was hired by the committee to investigate Bentley’s actions before possible impeachment, said after the hearing he expected the report to be released this afternoon.

Bentley lawyer Ross Garber, argued the governor’s Constitutional rights to due process have been violated by the House committee’s investigation and schedule. Garber said he should be able to know and perhaps question the witnesses interviewed by Sharman.

All coverage: Robert Bentley scandal

Shaul will consider some elements of the request for a TRO on the impeachment process.

The TRO would stop the committee from holding any hearings about impeachment. It would temporarily stop them from making any recommendation on impeachment to the full House.

The filing claims the House has “prosecuted impermissibly vague and ambiguous articles of impeachment against the governor.”

Bentley also claims the House failed to give him sufficient notice of the charges against him and improperly delegated the impeachment authority reserved for the House to an un-elected private lawyer.”

TROs typically require several elements, including a showing of irreparable harm if the action is not stopped. The plaintiff must show a likelihood of success. 

Such action is thought to be difficult in this case, because the courts have long held that the Legislature makes its own rules.

The report is expected to include highly personal details about Bentley’s relationship with former aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

Roman Shaul recusal by John Archibald on Scribd

From the court proceeding:


Bentley TRO Motion by KentFaulk on Scribd


Write a Reply or Comment:

Your email address will not be published.*