Ex-Alabama judge admits to theft, abuse of power

Published 9:04 pm Saturday, October 31, 2020

An Alabama judge who resigned earlier this year while under indictment has pleaded guilty to three felony charges of theft and abuse of power.

Doug Patterson’s plea Friday negates his trial that had been scheduled in about two weeks. Instead, he faces up to 40 years in prison at sentencing on Dec. 8.

“Patterson’s actions as an attorney and as a judge tarnished and debased the judicial system,” Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement. “His conviction sends a clear message that public officials who abuse their position, harm vulnerable parties, and flagrantly disregard Alabama law will be held accountable for their crimes.”

Efforts to reach Patterson for comment Friday were unsuccessful and defense attorney Dan Totten didn’t return a call for comment, al.com reported.

The plea agreement requires Patterson to repay nearly $73,000 that was stolen from a juvenile court fund and two of his former legal clients,

Then-Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Patterson as a district judge in March 2016. A native of Athens, Patterson was elected to a full term in 2017. He was removed from the bench in August 2019 after an investigation began.

In a letter to Limestone County presiding Judge Robert Baker, Patterson confessed to “unethical, criminal and reprehensible” conduct. Still, he pleaded not guilty to the charges and continued to draw a $10,800-per-month salary until he resigned in July.