The City of Mobile continues to defend its actions following controversy over subpoenas in a special counsel investigation.

The Mobile City Council has subpoena power per the Zoghby Act, but Mayor Sandy Stimpson urged the council not to exercise that power toward city officials as the investigation unfolds.

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, a nationwide law firm based out of Birmingham, is conducting the investigation. The firm is looking into claims of possible improprieties that former police chief Paul Prine raised.

To complete the investigation, documents and interviews with city officials are needed, but entities outside the city must be questioned. When the council considered approving subpoenas for all entities on June 7, Stimpson quickly raised concerns in a letter to all council members.

Letter to Mobile City Councilors June 7 2024 by Erica Thomas on Scribd

“I am writing to express my grave concern about you giving authority to the investigative attorney to subpoena City employees during your independent investigation into Paul Prine's allegations,” Stimpson wrote. “As I've stated on multiple occasions, if there is any wrongdoing or illegal behavior within city government, I want to know it.”

Stimpson said that asking the Attorney General to investigate the matter demonstrated that he was searching for the truth.

“Issuing a subpoena, which usually follows some legal proceeding like a grand jury investigation, implies that someone has done something illegal, and they are unwilling to cooperate,” Stimpson continued. “Not only am I going to fully cooperate with your investigation, but I am requiring all city employees to comply as a condition of their employment.”

City officials said they have already been subpoenaed for documents but do not see a need for individual subpoenas because all testimony is taken under oath.

“Our employees do not deserve to be approached in a way that implies they have committed a crime or engaged in wrongdoing when they are being fully cooperative,” the letter continued. “If allowed to go forward and create this precedent, you are giving future Mayors and/or City Councilors a process which could be weaponized for political gain, possibly against each other. Think how disruptive this could be and what a deterrent it would be for those who may have an interest to serve the City.”

After receiving the letter, the council tabled the resolution to issue subpoenas to all parties. City Council attorney Michael Linder said he spoke to the special counsel and the city attorney Monday night, and the resolution was no longer required because the city is cooperating with investigators. He did not mention the letter from Stimpson.

“A subpoena of individuals is only necessary when someone is unwilling to participate, which is not the case here,” said Mobile Director of Communications Candace Cooksey. “It doesn’t impact anything about the scope or course of the investigation.”

Prine told 1819 News that he wanted the truth to prevail, but he believed Linder and others' heavy involvement was concerning.

“I think the issue is collusion between the city council and the administration, the mayor's administration,” Prine said. “Watching various meetings, whether they were meetings, council meetings as a whole, pre-council meetings over the last two or three weeks, you've got [city attorney] Ricardo Woods instructing the attorney for the council [Linder] on talking with the special investigator. That's collusion.”

“There's no reason for the administration or their council to be in touch with the special investigator that's hired by the city council to investigate these allegations,” he continued. “There could only be one reason to do that, and that's to control the narrative.”

While he didn’t have an issue getting a subpoena, he said he received his on June 4. He gave his interview on June 5 before Stimpson sent the letter to the council. At first, Prine was informed the subpoena was only a draft. He said that later, the council attorney said the subpoena had been sent to him by accident.

“I think it's just a clear example of how the administration is colluding with the council and the council attorney because the narrative's changed,” he said. “So either these attorneys, whether it's for the administration or the city council, either they are deliberately manipulating the people and the narrative changes or they're incompetent.”

“And if they're incompetent, I would argue that they have no business representing the people or the council or the administration,” Prine added. “Now that sounds a little tough, but the truth is, I've not yet had to walk back one accusation. I've not had to walk back one statement that I've made, I've not had to clarify anything.”

Prine said if everyone who needs to be interviewed is not going to be subpoenaed, there could be an issue with getting the whole truth. He also said he was disappointed the council narrowed the scope of the investigation without communicating with him about his concerns.

The council still has the right to issue subpoenas in the investigation if someone fails to cooperate.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning or become a member to gain access to exclusive content and 1819 News merch.