Talladega County Judge Censured, Suspended

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary has approved a mediated settlement in the case of Talladega County District Judge Tommy Dobson. Under the terms of the agreement, Dobson will be suspended for 60 days and publicly censured. Here’s an article about it from the Daily Home.
In the agreement, the Judicial Inqury Commission, which reached the mediated agreement with Dobson, said he fully cooperated with its investigation and that there was no evidence of any actual prejudice to any of the parties involved in the cases that were mismanaged.

Dobson’s transgressions revolved around his appontiment of attorney Jack Swinford as a standing “referee” in child support cases. It’s perfectly legal for a judge to appoint a referee to hear testimony and make recommendations to the judge in one or more cases, but Dobson went far beyond that, effectively clothing Swinford with all the powers of a judge.

Dobson has been continuing to draw his $134,000 annual salary during the investigation and mediation. It’s not clear what his status will be after the 60-day suspension is concluded.