Pharmacist’s Illegal Distribution Trial Delayed

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- A Marshall County pharmacist was supposed to go on trial this week, but the county has not been able to find a judge to hear the case.

All of the criminal judges in Marshall County recused themselves from the trial of Timothy Neal Bishop.

The owner of two pharmacies in Albertville and Scant City is accused of illegally distributing pills.

Investigators said the Arab drug unit observed three instances of Bishop distributing medication to a person without a prescription, and arrested him in October 2010.

He is charged with three counts each of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and dispensing without a prescription.

"Both sides are prepared for trial, the problem at this point in time is that all of our local judges have recused themselves from this case," district attorney Steve Marshall said.

"Each of the individual judges had a reason that they didn't feel like the appearance of impropriety would exist, in essence that they couldn't establish that a fair trial could be given to either the defendant or to the state."

Marshall said the trial will still be held in Marshall County with a local jury, and the county will either bring in a retired judge or a judge from another county.

Marshall said it is not uncommon for a judge assigned to a case to recuse himself but this is a unique circumstance where all those currently on the bench have some connection to one of the sides in the case.

He said the recusals have no bearing on whether a crime was committed.

"It's unusual but the good thing is that you want judges who are able to recognize that they may have a bias or may have some issue that causes them not to be fair," the district attorney said.

"That way for both sides that we can ensure a fair trial because that's what everybody wants."

Marshall said even though it is the jury who makes the decision about guilt, the judge has to make rulings of law and determines what evidence gets in or doesn't get in.

There will be at least one new judge in coming months, as Mitch Floyd replaces Hugh Flanagan as district judge in January.

However, Floyd will also be ineligible to hear this case as he is currently an assistant district attorney who worked on this investigation.

"I'm sure there will be cases that Mitch will have to remove himself from because he's had some contact with or some knowledge of because of his workplace in the [district attorney's] office," Marshall said.

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