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Courtrooms throughout central Alabama either continue to be closed (Montgomery County, Federal Middle District Courts) or have recently announced closure (As of this week, Elmore, Autauga and Chilton County Courts have closed.) Even those courtrooms that are ostensibly open for business are currently severely limited in what kind of matters they can handle during the COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously jury trials (and Grand Jury hearings) are suspended indefinitely as there is no safe way to achieve social distancing requirements for jurors and others in the courtroom. Other types of hearings are going forward but the slow pace is still creating a backlog of cases that will, in our opinion, take years to resolve once things start moving again.

Interestingly, any Municipal courts within the Circuit Court’s jurisdiction are bound by a Presiding Judge’s order of closure. This means that cases in Montgomery, Wetumpka, Prattville and Millbrook Municipal Courts will be closed until the Presiding Circuit Judge’s order of closure is lifted.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles continues to hold “hearings” but is not allowing live or virtual testimony or presentation of evidence. At the present time applicants must submit materials in support of their position and wait for the result to be announced. We have written previously in this space about the inadequacy of this process and continue to call on this Board to allow virtual hearings for those that request them. After all, a hearing on a Pardon application or Parole request are vitally important to the people involved and these applicants deserve to have their say. Continue reading ›

At Skier & Associates, our practice is varied. We have pending cases in numerous venues including Alabama State Courts (District Court, Circuit Court, Family Court in Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore, Butler, Lowndes and other counties) Municipal Courts (Montgomery, Prattville, Millbrook and Wetumpka City Courts for example,) Federal District Courts (Middle District of Alabama) and administrative bodies (Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.)

All of these entities have approached their scheduling and handling of pending cases differently during the period of shut-down, and all are taking different approaches to re-opening. This can be confusing for clients as well as attorneys. Continue reading ›

Pardon and Parole hearings in Alabama have been “on hold” due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Kay Ivey has ordered the Board of Pardons and Paroles to resume hearings.  Details are unclear at the current time but it appears that hearings will be held via telephone or perhaps via video conference software.

Skier & Associates remains committed to fully representing our clients at these important hearings, and we are in touch with Pardons and Paroles staff to ensure a smooth, seamless process for our clients, leading to full consideration of pardons or parole. We have a proven, decades-long track record of success before the Board.

If you or a loved one has a pardon or parole hearing scheduled, we are here to help. Here are some of the steps we take in representing clients before the Board:

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We at Skier & Associates will continue to have regular office hours (8:30-4:30 Mondays-Thursdays; 8:30-noon Fridays) until further notice.

The Administrative Office of Courts has ordered all in-person court hearings postponed until at least April 16, and the Federal Courts are strictly limiting those allowed admission to the courthouse.

If you are a current client and have a court date coming up, we will be contacting you to update you on your situation. Very few cases have, at this point, been rescheduled.

We have taken internal measures to ensure that we can continue to do business for our clients while minimizing risk of spreading this virus:

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Andrew Skier, founder of Skier & Associates, is honored to have been named to incoming Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s Transition team. As a member of Mayor Reed’s “Public Safety & Thriving Neighborhoods” committee, Mr. Skier will be a part of the group advising Mayor Reed on issues related to police and public safety. Mayor Reed felt it was crucial to have a representative of the Criminal Defense Bar on this committee in order to obtain input related to the administration of justice in our community. Continue reading ›

During its 2019 Regular Session, HB 380, which restructures and places severe limitations on the powers of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles passed both legislative houses and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature, which is likely. While specifics are to be hammered out during the administrative rules process, the net result will be more restrictions on early parole considerations for most inmates. Importantly, the legislation sets rules for when a parole hearing can be held, based on specific guidelines. As is the case with nearly all legislation, there is good news and bad news. Continue reading ›

Years ago arson used to be the malicious burning of a person’s home. Today in Alabama arson is defined as the burning of any building. There are three different degrees of arson. First and second degree arson are the intentional burning of a building. To be charged with third degree arson the burning doesn’t have to be intentional, only reckless. Also, it makes a difference whether there is a person inside the building.

 

You should talk to a lawyer who often works in the area of criminal law before making any decisions about an arson charge. At Skier & Associates we are ready and willing to sit down and discuss your arson case with you, explain the legal process and what will come next, offer you advice on what you should do next, and discuss representing you if your case goes to court.

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There is hope for those who have been advocating for reform of Alabama’s marijuana possession laws. In a bill filed in the Alabama legislature, penalties for simple possession of marijuana would be lessened significantly going forward. This blog post will examine Alabama’s current marijuana laws as well as how they may change should this legislation become law.

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In a surprising and encouraging move, late last year (2018) the “First Step Act” passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President. The Act purports to change several provisions that will have an effect on Federal criminal cases going forward, as well as many individuals who are serving federal sentences already.

Here are some highlights of this 148 page piece of legislation; as always of course this analysis is early and could be modified over time.

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Alabama law requires that, before the Board of Pardons and Paroles can hear a case, they must notify any identifiable victim of their right to be present at a hearing and make their feelings known on the matter. This has two effects on those awaiting a hearing: First, it can delay the hearing as the process of locating and notifying victims progresses. Second, a victim’s wishes carry significant weight with the Board.

Here are my thoughts and experiences on the matter:

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