DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama judge on Tuesday dismissed criminal charges accusing a former jail warden of illegally leaking information to a blogger critical of a sheriff.
The Decatur Daily reports that Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson dismissed the charge of computer tampering, immediately granting the request of former Morgan County jail warden Leon Bradley after two days of testimony.
Bradley was fired in October by Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin. His lawyers claimed Franklin and three employees lied to get warrants and have Bradley arrested.
“I’m really thankful for the law enforcement people who stood up like they’re supposed to,” Bradley said after the judge’s ruling. “I’m disgusted by those who did not. It was sickening today to hear some of the actions of law enforcement.”
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The Alabama attorney general’s office had already agreed to dismiss the case, but Bradley insisted on a hearing to lay out what Franklin had done.
Al.com reports that Thompson declined to hold contempt hearings against Franklin or her deputies, saying he was “leaving that up to other people.” Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson and Assistant Attorney General Matt Hart were present in the courtroom Tuesday. Prosecutors have said they can’t comment on the case.
The blogger’s grandson, Daniel Lockhart, testified that Franklin threatened to arrest him and derail his plans to join the Army if he told anyone about being a confidential informant or didn’t provide information harming his grandmother. Franklin paid Daniel Lockhart $500 to install surveillance software on Glenda Lockhart’s computer. She authors the Morgan County Whistleblower, a blog long critical of the sheriff.
Lockhart hasn’t been charged with a crime and is pursuing a federal civil lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.
“I think everything went well today, and justice will prevail,” said Lockhart as she left the courthouse.
Sgt. Kyle Wilson testified that Franklin and two other sheriff’s office employees instructed him to prepare a search warrant affidavit on Bradley’s home even though he had no knowledge of the investigation. He said he declined to present the affidavit to the judge.
Wilson, a 15-year employee of the sheriff’s office, also testified that Franklin unsuccessfully tried to convince a Madison County investigator to issue the search warrant against Bradley. Madison County Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Salomonsky said the same thing in testimony Friday.
Franklin denied knowing anything about the software in testimony Friday.
Deputy Zachary Dockery, an 11-year employee of the sheriff’s office, testified that he declined to provide surveillance equipment to use on blogger Glenda Lockhart because he was worried it would amount to criminal eavesdropping. He said he also told two sheriff’s office employee to not hack into Bradley’s personal emails without a warrant.
Dockery testified that the sheriff’s office had installed a tracking device on Bradley’s county vehicle.
Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml