Limestone County sheriff wants 13-count indictment thrown away

Sheriff Mike Blakely's defense team says the Alabama Ethics Act, which is cited in the indictment, is unconstitutional.

Posted: Oct 23, 2019 7:07 PM
Updated: Oct 23, 2019 7:09 PM

WAAY 31 is taking a closer look into court filings by attorneys for Mike Blakely, the Limestone County sheriff who's under indictment.

Blakey's team claims the Alabama Ethics Act, which is cited in the indictment, is unconstitutional.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely

The question is, is the indictment too vague or is the law too vague? A local attorney told WAAY 31 on Wednesday what the Alabama Ethics Act is meant to do.

"Basically enacted to ensure our politicians and public employees do not use their office for personal gain," said Ron Smith.

Smith is a criminal defense attorney in Huntsville who has experience with the Alabama Ethics Law. He has never represented Sheriff Mike Blakely, but he said it would be odd throw out the case. He says some terms in the Alabama Ethics Act are, in fact, vague when not specifically defined, but the indictment is specific.

"It's a higher standard either way, but in the case of an indictment, a lot of times, judges will just order the state to provide more details," said Smith.

One portion of the law states no public official or employee should use or cause his or her official position or office to obtain personal gain for him or herself.

In Blakely's motion to declare the act unconstitutional, his attorneys claim counts 7, 8, 10, 12 and 13 don't specify what conduct is prohibited, nor do they explain the term "using for personal gain."

The indictment is specific. Charge 8 says Blakely used his official position or office for personal gain, by having an employee wire $1,000 to him on Dec. 9.

Charge 12 in the indictment says Blakely used his position or office to obtain interest free loans in the form of a $50,000 cashier's check and/or a $22,189 credit.

"I think when you get into the weeds is when it says a public official or a public employee cannot use his office for personal gain and then you have to determine if, well, did he really use his office and then was it for personal gain as opposed to gain as part of his job duties. Did he do something that benefited his office?" said Smith.

Blakely's defense team believes the Alabama Ethics Commission had been investigating him for nearly two years before arresting him, and says a data dump was done when they received two thumb drives that contained 60,000 emails and documents.

They say many of these emails, text messages and documents are irrelevant to the indictment.

The attorney WAAY 31 spoke with says the judge in this case could say it's unconstitutional, which would be an extreme case, or he could request for the indictment to be more specific.

The judge could also determine the indictment is specific and the law is constitutional, and dismiss the motion.

This is just one of several motions filed by Blakely's team. We've reached out to the sheriff's attorneys for comment, but haven't heard back.

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