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Lisa Borden Discusses Part-Time Judges' Responsibility for Defendants' Rights in The Anniston Star

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Even part-time and small-town judges have a responsibility to protect the Constitutional rights of the people brought before a city court, Alabama's Judicial Inquiry Commission ruled in a recently released opinion. The commission noted that the nine-page ruling was a response to a question from Larry Ward — the embattled former municipal judge who was in charge of courts in Harpersville and Childersburg when both cities were sued over their use of private probation. Private probation companies typically provide probation services to cities for free, funding their supervision of people placed on probation by charging monthly probation fees. Plaintiffs in the Harpersville and Childersburg lawsuits claimed that the courts in those towns, where Ward was a judge, had created "debtor's prisons" where people couldn't get out of probation because of inability to pay. 

In this Anniston Star article, Baker Donelson's Pro Bono Shareholder Lisa Borden, a critic of private probation, said the opinion could force some small towns to reconsider whether they want to have a municipal court at all. "If you have to have a hearing and make written findings every time you make one of these decisions, that's a lot of work," Ms. Borden said. 

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