published Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Commissioners approve judicial magistrates

by Dan Whisenhunt

Commissioners approved four judicial magistrates on Thursday, including the nephew of Commissioner Larry Henry. The commissioners also made his nephew, Larry Ables, chief magistrate.

Henry abstained from all votes.

“While I have again been assured my voting is not going to be a violation, I wanted to make this statement in order to ensure there is full disclosure,” Henry said.

The four judges oversee bond hearings in Hamilton County.

The commissioners are Ables, Yolanda Mitchell, Pete Johnson and Randall Russell. Ables and Mitchell are returning magistrates. Current Magistrate Robert Davis reapplied but was not selected.

On Oct. 6, commissioners interviewed 11 applicants for the four seats, including three magistrates currently on the job. The judges' shifts cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Henry.

Henry first disclosed he was an uncle by marriage to Larry Ables, currently the chief judicial magistrate, when Ables got the job in 2007, a fact also reported by local media at the time.County Attorney Rheubin Taylor told Henry he could vote vote for Ables again and said it does not conflict with the county ethics code. Ables, who is currently the chief magistrate, makes more than the other magistrates, earning $64,363 annually. The regular magistrate salary is $59,363.

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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