Mayor Battle names Lonzo Robinson as Municipal Court Presiding Judge, bypassing longtime city judge

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Mayor Tommy Battle named Lonzo Robinson as the new presiding judge for Huntsville Municipal Court, despite the senior Municipal Court Judge Sybil Cleveland’s interest in the position. 

“While each of our judges have considerable expertise in the legal realm, it takes a different skill set to handle administrative and personnel duties,” Battle said in a news release. “I want to thank Judge Cleveland for her hard work in keeping the courts operating and functioning during the last year. I have asked that the three judges now work as a team so that Huntsville Municipal Court becomes a model for the nation.”

The presiding judge manages the administration of the court system, including the budget and oversight of more than 40 employees.

Cleveland had previously asserted that Battle was violating state law by not naming a presiding judge sooner because the city court had more than one judge, but Battle said the city’s lawyers did not believe it was necessary at the time.

The mayor said at the time he was waiting to fill out the court before appointing a presiding judge.

Huntsville City Council voted in July to increase the court from two full-time judges and one part-time judge to three full-time positions and one part-time judge. The council selected two city attorneys, Robinson and Jeff Grimes, to join Cleveland and part-time Judge Scott Rogers, on the bench.

Robinson will now oversee Cleveland, Rogers and the newly appointed Grimes.

A news release from the City of Huntsville says:

Robinson has served as the City’s chief prosecutor since Feb. 2015 and previously worked in Municipal Court  for 13 years as a substitute judge. A U.S. Navy veteran, Robinson is a graduate is of the University of Alabama in Birmingham and holds a law degree from the University of Alabama.

“I look forward to working with Judge Cleveland and Judge Grimes,” Robinson said. “Our mission is to work together to make Huntsville Municipal Court the best in the country.”