After almost two months, the city has failed to fulfill two records requests made by Lagniappe in reference to former Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Charles Graddick’s time on the municipal bench.
City officials have failed to produce for Lagniappe a list of dockets Graddick handled while performing the duties of a municipal judge. This request, which was made on June 27, included dockets related to the newly created gun court he oversaw and the municipal arraignments he presided over.
City spokesperson George Talbot said the documents in question could not be produced because the city’s software does not allow for officials to compile such data.
“The software system used by the court does not categorize that type of case information for any judges, full or part time,” Talbot wrote in an email message.
When pressed for more details, Talbot confirmed that while the city can track “which judge has a specific case,” there is no “master list of all the cases.”
The city is able to fulfill a request on a specific case, Talbot wrote.
The city has also failed to provide documentation related to the salaries of Graddick and his associates within the city’s legal department. That specific request was made on June 26.
The former circuit court judge was appointed to the positions of chief judicial advisor and director of municipal court by Mayor Sandy Stimpson in 2017, after aging out of his position on the county bench. However, at some point during his tenure, Graddick began presiding over cases as a municipal judge without first being appointed to the position by members of the Mobile City Council.
Talbot wrote that Graddick filled in for judges as part of his duties, but sources close to the municipal court claimed he was more of a full-time fixture on the municipal bench.
“As part of his duties, Judge Graddick did hear municipal cases when other judges were unable to do so,” Talbot wrote. “This service was conducted at the direction of [municipal Presiding] Judge [Holmes] Whiddon and in accordance with state law. Judge Graddick did not receive any additional compensation from the city for hearing those cases.”
Despite the city’s insistence Graddick’s service on the bench was within state legal guidelines, the judge did not continue to hear cases shortly after the story became public. He has since been appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey as executive director of the state’s Pardons and Paroles Board. Graddick will leave the city on Aug. 31.
In a statement released last month, the Victims of Crime and Leniency, known as VOICE, praised Ivey’s pick of Graddick.
“From the start of his career, Judge Graddick dedicated his life to serving the people of Alabama and protecting the law. These are necessary qualities to lead Pardons and Paroles,” Ivey said. “As our state’s top law enforcement official, he was a national leader in advocating for victims’ rights and in prosecuting crimes. I am proud to have someone of Judge Graddick’s experience and caliber at the helm of this board. Public safety is paramount.”
It’s unclear how much Graddick will be paid. A spokesperson for Ivey told Lagniappe through an email to speak with the state’s personnel office. Personnel Office Director Jackie Graham said in a phone interview the governor sets the salary, and as of Monday morning the office had not yet received Graddick’s appointment letter. As for how this hire will impact Graddick’s judicial retirement, Graham said to ask the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) because the judicial retirement fund is separate from the state employees retirement fund. As director of the Pardons and Paroles Board, Graddick would be considered part of the latter fund.
Bill Kelley, director of both the employee retirement and judicial retirement funds for RSA, said there is no limit to how much a retired judge can make. Other retired state employees are limited to $31,000 per year while taking retirement.
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