MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- There has been a flurry of activity in the lawsuit filed by former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency head Spencer Collier against former Gov. Robert Bentley and others.
The announcement by special prosecutor Ellen Brooks that a Montgomery-based grand jury was ending its investigation into the governor’s office under Bentley without additional charges, meant one potential court battle was over.
But it also cleared the way for the next battle -- a lawsuit from the state's former top law enforcement officer
The lawsuit is centered on the changing relationships between Collier, his former friend, and boss, then-Gov. Robert Bentley and the man who replaced Collier as the head of ALEA, Stan Stabler.
Collier was fired by Bentley in March 2016 amid claims by Bentley and Stabler about the misuse of state funds. The next day Collier held a press conference denying wrongdoing and claiming Bentley was having an affair with his top political aide, Rebekah Mason.
Collier filed a lawsuit.
The allegations dogged Bentley, who resigned from office in April 2017.
In December a judge ruled that Bentley had the right to fire Collier but he allowed claims of defamation invasion of privacy and conspiracy to remain.
There have been a number of developments in the case in recent months:
- Bentley is expected to give a deposition June 23;
- Collier`s lawyers want to know everyone who looked up collier in the Alabama Department of Public Health Controlled Substances Prescription database;
- Defendant Stan Stabler says Collier has admitted talking to the Alabama Attorney General’s office about Bentley, while they were also investigating Collier;
- The Alabama Supreme Court rejected Bentley`s bid for immunity in the case.
In a court filing, Stabler wants collier to be made to answer questions about his conversations with the attorney general’s office. Collier has cited the AG’s office clearing him of wrongdoing as a key point in his lawsuit. Stabler wants to know how the investigation was handled.
Collier has refused so far, and the Alabama Attorney General’s office has entered the case, arguing that what it told Collier during the investigations falls into the category of “law enforcement privilege,” so it doesn`t have to be revealed.
The issue is set for a hearing on May 30 in Montgomery Circuit Court.
Mason is also a defendant in the lawsuit. The court had stayed the case against her, based on arguments by her lawyers that she might be facing criminal charges on related issues.
The grand jury looking into the governor’s office under Bentley has ended its work, but it’s unclear, based on the court record, if that will lead the stay for Mason being lifted in the Collier lawsuit.