A criminally indicted Limestone County judge pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
Doug Patterson is charged with use of official position or office for personal gain, financial exploitation of the elderly first-degree and theft third-degree.
In court, accusations started flying. Patterson's attorney said fellow Judge Robert Baker tried to intimidate his client into taking a plea deal and said if he didn't turn himself in he would call the Alabama Attorney General's office.
Patterson’s attorney requested all the documents from sealed grand jury hearings involving the judge. They wanted names of jurors, witnesses, evidence and testimony.
All of it in every case is sealed to encourage people to be honest in their testimony. Patterson's attorney said he needed the information to see if Baker influenced the grand jury.
The judge, however, denied Patterson's attorney's request for the information because he said there was no solid evidence of any wrongdoing, and grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secretive.
They also repeatedly tried to involve the state’s case against Sheriff Mike Blakely. The only known connection between the sheriff and this case is Baker was the judge in charge of the grand jury hearing against Blakely.
His trial is set for June 15.
If convicted, Patterson could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000 each for the first two charges. He could also face up to five years in prison and a fine for the theft charge.
In January, WAAY 31 obtained a letter signed by Patterson in which he admitted his guilt. The attorney representing him said on Tuesday that Patterson did not write this letter. He declined to comment if Patterson signed it or not and wouldn’t say who wrote it.
The letter, which was addressed to Limestone County Circuit Judge Robert Baker, referenced "unethical, criminal and reprehensible conduct” from Patterson. Three other recipients were Cc'd in the letter. One of those recipients confirmed to WAAY 31 they did receive it.
You can read more about Patterson’s case here.
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