In what appears to have been a concerted media blitz, Baldwin County Commission President Chris Elliott told several reporters he invited to a civic speaking engagement last week the DUI case against him had been “settled.” But according to state court records, his civil action against the Alabama Law Enforcement Association for his license suspension is ongoing, and as recently as Jan. 6, all the circuit court judges in Baldwin County had recused themselves from the case.
Further, despite assurances that he “owned” his crime and he did “not ask for any favors” or special treatment, he reported he was currently serving a 45-day suspension of his license, which is half of the 90-day suspension period mandated by state law. Elliott refused a breathalyzer exam after running a red light in Fairhope just after midnight on May 14, 2016.
At the time, he said he was leaving a charity steak cook-off for the Rotary Club where he’d had a “couple of beers,” but the cook-off ended more than two hours before he was arrested and there have been unsubstantiated claims that Elliott was seen drinking in a Fairhope bar after prior to his arrest. Elliott’s attorney, Rob Stankoski, would not directly answer the question of whether his client had been in a bar prior to his arrest. Elliott has not responded to any of Lagniappe’s efforts to ask him about the situation.
Lagniappe reported last week that circuit court Judge Clark Stankoski recused himself Jan. 6 because his brother, Rob Stankoski, is defending Elliot in the case. But a motion not filed until Jan. 12 indicates judges Jody Bishop, Carmen Bosch, Joseph Norton and Scott Taylor recused themselves from the case two days earlier, on Jan. 4.
Elliott told the crowd at a meeting of the Eastern Shore Republican Women last week that charges against him in Fairhope municipal court were settled “some time ago,” a claim since corroborated with Marcus McDowell, the city’s assistant prosecutor. McDowell said the city withheld adjudication after Elliott pleaded guilty in his municipal case. McDowell said he was unable to remember exactly when the plea deal took place.
“It means he pled guilty, and that the court accepts the plea but does not find him guilty,” McDowell explained. “And at the end of a two-year period, or the end of this probation period, if he’s completed all his courses, he [did] what he’s supposed to be doing, the matter is nolle prossed. So there’s no finding of guilt.”
McDowell said the municipal court did not have a role in suspending Elliott’s license because that is a matter for circuit court. Elliott said he received a 45-day suspension from the state last month but on Jan. 13, the day after Elliott’s press blitz, a spokesperson for ALEA said the “the case is still pending and therefore we cannot make any comment.”
Neither Elliott nor Rob Stankoski returned requests for comment, and Elliott did not revisit the issue during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the County Commission.
Despite covering the story over the past three months, Lagniappe was not informed about Elliott’s speaking engagement ahead of time. Other media have told Lagniappe Elliott personally contacted them and invited them to the event. When questioned in a television interview with WALA as to whether he had gone somewhere else after the cook-off, Elliott changed the subject.
Jane Nicholes contributed to this report.