Hayneville Municipal Court Judge recuses self from Boyd case

Published 4:06 pm Thursday, May 8, 2014

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By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
Hayneville Municipal Court Judge Fred Bell recused himself Thursday from the case of Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd, who faces multiple charges of reckless endangerment.
As a result, it was announced by Boyd’s attorneys that he will wait until a new judge is appointed to enter a plea.
Boyd was out of jail on bond from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office on one count of reckless endangerment in connection with the way he handled the case of a now former Hayneville Middle School janitor who pleaded guilty to enticing a child for immoral purposes.
However, it was revealed Thursday by Hayneville Police Chief Kelvin Mitchell and Hayneville Municipal Prosecutor Ed Kendall that Boyd actually faces 108 counts of reckless endangerment in Hayneville with the possibility of 135 more in another jurisdiction.
Mitchell previously explained that he got a warrant for Boyd’s arrest because, “A sexual perpetrator should not have been allowed back on campus and should not have been transferred to an elementary school during the criminal investigation, which resulted in a conviction.”
Mitchell said he approves municipal court bonds, but Boyd turned himself in to a Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office Deputy prior to a given deadline. He said the bond money was brought to him with no paperwork, the incorrect date and incorrect amount of charges.
“I don’t know where they came up with the one charge. I don’t know anything about how the Sheriff’s Department operated that particular arrest,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also said, “There is a lot of political warfare going on because of who the defendant is.”
He explained that the number of counts against Boyd was not dropped from an original 243 to the 108 counts Boyd now faces in Hayneville, but there was a jurisdictional argument.
The 108, according to Mitchell, are female students at Hayneville Middle School. He said, “Removing the 135 counts that occurred at the Mosses elementary school (Central Elementary where the former janitor was transferred prior to his arrest) and placing them in the proper court system is what we’re seeking to do at this time.”
Mitchell said after discussion with Lowndes County District Attorney Charlotte M. Tesmer, he is also seeking prosecution of the case by the State Attorney General.
When contacted, Tesmer said that if the Lowndes County Circuit Clerk finds probable cause to allow the warrants her assistant district attorneys would prosecute the case.
Bell said Thursday, “We should not give the appearance impropriety” and, “I have chosen to not hear this case.”
He said there is the possibility of conflict. However, he gave attorneys representing Boyd the option to go ahead and enter a plea.
Boyd, who was present at the municipal court Thursday, was represented by Lowndes County Board of Education Attorney Hank Sanders and attorneys Teresa B. Petelos and Mark S. Boardman.
While Sanders stated the intention for Boyd to enter a plea of “not guilty,” he said after Bell recused himself, “We (Boyd’s attorneys) have conferred among ourselves and decided not to enter a plea one way or another.”
Petelos said, “When the new judge is appointed then we’ll enter a plea.”
Sanders said the law requires the mayor to appoint another judge who need only be a lawyer, a citizen of the state and a member of the Alabama Bar Association.
While Petelos said there were no other pending charges at this time against Boyd, Kendall said in the city of Hayneville there are 108 counts.
He said, “I think we’ll have a trial here in municipal court. We don’t plan on dismissing any charges.”
However, Kendall agreed that if the case was moved to district court, the city would share any information it had, but would not drop its charges.
Eric Mackey, executive director of the school superintendents of Alabama, expressed support for Boyd, saying, “We think Dr. Boyd did the right thing. He followed the law. He followed the board policy. He followed the proper procedures. He made the proper report to DHR. He did what he was supposed to do.”
Mackey said, “It sets a very dangerous precedent that a person who follows the law and does what they are supposed to do and carries out their duty with due diligence can then be dragged into court.”
He said, “Obviously we want this to be settled soon, but then we also want to come back and look at how this can be prevented in the future.”
Mackey said a bill, which died in the State Legislature, would have prevented a warrant such as that against Boyd going forward without first going to circuit court and being signed by a circuit judge.
He said school superintendents expect Boyd to be “exonerated.”

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