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Judge dismisses appeal by Alabama ex-sheriff to have theft and ethics conviction overturned

Former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely has lost an appeal to have his theft and ethics conviction and sentence overturned

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ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — Former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely has lost his latest appeal to have his theft and ethics conviction and jail sentence overturned.

Circuit Judge Tim Jolley dismissed Blakely's post-trial appeal on Saturday. Blakely argued the retired judge, who was appointed to preside over his trial, was not qualified because her membership had lapsed with the Alabama Bar Association. Jolley ruled that her appointment was proper.

A jury in 2021 found the longtime sheriff guilty of charges of theft and using his office for personal gain. After nearly 40 years in office, Blakely was removed from his position as sheriff following the conviction. The two convictions arose from accusations that Blakely helped himself to no-interest loans from a jail safe used to hold inmates’ money and that he deposited $4,000 in campaign funds into his personal account.

Blakely was sentenced to serve three years behind bars.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker appointed former Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Pamela Baschab to preside over Blakely's case after other judges had recused themselves.

Jolley, in rejecting Blakely's appeal, said nothing in state law or the Alabama Constitution requires the appointment of retired judges with an active law license. He also said Blakely could have raised the issue at trial but did not do so.

“Because neither requires a retired judge— not least one with more than thirty years of unblemished service— to maintain an active license to practice law, Judge Baschab’s appointment was lawful and proper,” Jolley wrote in the Saturday order.

The Alabama Supreme Court in February declined to hear an earlier appeal by Blakely.

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