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Thomas, State Bar Association battle over law license Feb. 16

By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Former Circuit Judge Herman Thomas's fight to reclaim his license to practice law is scheduled for trial Feb. 16 before an Alabama Bar Association panel in Montgomery.

"They (the bar) filed charges, we filed an answer and now we go to trial," said Thomas' defense attorney Robert "Cowboy Bob" Clark.

Tony
McLain,
general
counsel for
the bar
association,
confirmed
the date of
the
proceeding.
Each side
had agreed
to postpone the case until after Thomas's criminal proceedings were conducted. 

With Clark and his partner Jeff Deen managing his defense against more than 100 criminal charges, Thomas was found not guilty in state court here more than a month ago in a sensational three-week trial during which a dozen young black men claimed that the judge exploited his judicial authority to ensnare them for extrajudicial purposes, including paddling their bare bottoms in a spare courthouse office for the judge's sexual gratification. The inmates won leniency from the judge in exchange for submitting, prosecutors contended.   

The legal profession's organization suspended Thomas's license to practice while the case was pending.

Clark said Thomas's second set of tormenters were again doomed to disappointment, though the burden of proof in the bar's proceeding is less stringent, more like a civil proceeding where a preponderance of the evidence is sufficient, than in a criminal trial where the jurors must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt.

"It's a BS case just like the other was a BS case and I'm looking forward to beating their ass," said Clark.

"Just how many ass-kickings do they want?" wondered Clark, suggesting knowledge of their plans would assist him in arranging his work calendar for 2010.

Thomas presided as a judge here, first on the district court bench and later on the circuit bench, for nearly 20 years. He resigned his judgeship just before he was set for trial before the Court of the Judiciary in 2007. Ultimately, he faced more than 100 criminal charges in the state court where he once presided. Either by specially-appointed Judge Claud Neilson or the jury, Thomas was acquitted of all charges.

The bar association's disciplinary committee assigns a five-member panel which includes one lay person to serve as jurors in the action on Thomas's law license.

As long as Clark is serving as Thomas's lead counsel, there will be no "plea bargain" or negotiated resolution, he said.

"Even if they offer him a slap on the wrist, we won't take it or I will withdraw," said Clark. "I won't represent him and be party to that. They started this s---. We'll end it for them. Plea bargain, my ass. They can apologize while they lay prostrate on the steps of the Supreme Court and I won't negotiate."

"I"m not gonna f-----g back down; I'm sorry, I'm just one of them sons of bitches who won't back down," he said. "I was screaming charge when Custer was throwing in the towel. I was fighting (Mobile County District Attorney John) Tyson and now I'm fighting the state bar. What can they do to me? They can shoot me but they can't eat me."
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