Trials Begins For Alabama Judge Accused Of Trading Sex With Inmates For Leniency

Fifteen current and former prison inmates are scheduled to testify in the trial of former Alabama circuit court judge Herman Thomas, who is accused of trading leniency for sexual acts performed in his chambers.

Some inmates in those cases described being checked out of the jail for meetings with Thomas in his car or in his private office in the county courthouse. First, there were reports of inmates having to pull down their underwear for spankings with a wooden paddle. Then came allegations of oral and anal sex, according to court records. Retired Mobile County Circuit Judge Braxton Kittrell said people thought Thomas’ personal interest in the defendants was a positive. “Everyone thought he had a lot of concern for people who got into criminal difficulty. All of this was a surprise to everyone,” he said. Defense attorney Robert “Cowboy Bob” Clark calls the accusers “lying felons” who are trying to wreck the career of “a prestigious member of the Bar for over 20 years.” The NAACP has defended Thomas and claims race is behind his prosecution. But Patterson disputes that, noting that each of the victims is black, and says that jail checkout records back up inmates’ claims about trips to Thomas’ private office, and other inmates spotted marks after paddlings. There also is other evidence, according to court records, including one inmate’s seminal fluid on the office carpet. The inmates also were able to describe in detail Thomas’ unmarked windowless office.

Thomas is married with two teenage daughters.