ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has rejected a request by former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely to partially restore the jurisdiction of his case back to the trial court, so the trial judge could consider recusal and dismissal of Blakely’s conviction and sentence.
The appeals court’s short order, which was issued Tuesday, simply said that the Appellant’s “motion to remand this case to circuit court is denied,” according to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
Blakely had asked the court to “re-vest” certain powers in the trial court. He is appealing his conviction on the counts of theft and misuse of office. That appeal means the jurisdiction for the case has moved to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
Blakely’s lawyers said they recently learned that his trial judge, retired Judge Pamela Baschab, did not hold a current law license when she presided over the case, including the sentencing where Blakely was ordered to serve three years in jail. He is on bond pending his appeal.
The defense argues Alabama law bars someone who is not licensed to practice law from serving as an attorney or judge. They argue that Baschab was not legally authorized to hear the case. The defense says Baschab should recuse herself from the case, let a new judge be appointed and that judge should dismiss the charges.
Baschab has not formally responded to the defense recusal motion.
The defense’s request seeking the partial return of jurisdiction also said Blakely did not want to dismiss his appeal while pursuing the trial court recusal. The Alabama Attorney General’s office argued Blakely would have to withdraw his appeal — based on jurisdiction — while pursuing the trial judge’s recusal.
In January 2021, The Alabama Bar Association had informed Baschab that her bar association dues had lapsed, but also said that didn’t apply because she was a retired judge. Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker appointed Baschab to the Blakely case in February 2021, after the previous judge had recused himself over COVID-19 fears.