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A Jefferson County judge has been convicted of violating ethics rules by failing to return to work without pay related to a previous conviction.

According to reports, Jefferson County Criminal Circuit Court judge Tracie Todd was suspended for 120 days without pay following her second sanction in less than a year.

The sanctions were for disregarding the opinions of higher courts and inserting personal opinions into her rulings. 

According to U.S. News, one of the rulings was an attempt to rule Alabama’s death penalty statute unconstitutional. That decision was overturned by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Court.

Todd was ordered to work for a period of 90 days without pay starting December 6, most of which she spent in Chicago with her husband and children. Todd claimed she was working remotely and couldn’t return to Alabama due to COVID-19 quarantines.

Todd was prosecuted by the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), which argued that Todd attempted to conceal she was out of state.

Reports claimed the JIC presented evidence that showed Todd didn’t log into the state court software from December 2021 to March 2022 and made no effort to communicate with litigants, who sometimes showed up to hearings after her office failed to reschedule them.

Todd’s defense said Todd directed her staff members to reopen her office while she was in Illinois. They also argued that using the court’s software is her judicial assistant’s job and that no requests for hearings were denied. 

The court could have permanently removed Todd but only suspended her for four more months.

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