Brookside hires new town judge, will consider dismissing cases

BJohn Archibald

Henry Irby, a 32-year veteran of the Birmingham Police Department, is introduced as interim chief of the Brookside Police Department on Feb. 11, 2022. Dennis Pillion

The town of Brookside – in the spotlight for months as a hotbed for police profiteering – will resume its long-suspended court later this month with a new judge to hear old cases, all of which will be considered for dismissal.

A statement disseminated this morning by Brookside City Clerk Debbie Keedy said longtime Municipal Judge Jim Wooten earlier this month recused himself from all pending cases, and the town council last week appointed Marcus Jones “as an additional part-time judge” to adjudicate the cases.

“We are honored to have Judge Jones as one of our Municipal Judges,” Mayor Mike Bryan said in the statement. “Judge Jones has served as a municipal judge for a number of municipalities in Jefferson County since 1999. This is just another step in our efforts to build trust with the community.”

The Brookside court will resume under Judge Jones at 1 p.m.  April 28. Wooten has served as judge in Brookside for 13 years.

“All pending cases will be evaluated for grounds for dismissal,” the statement says. “Any dismissals will not affect prior adjudicated cases or any other pending cases. Pending cases will be addressed by the Municipal Court with Judge Jones presiding over the cases.”

The court clerk has begun to notify defendants and lawyers about the schedule, the statement said.

Brookside, a town of 1,253 residents just north of Birmingham, rose to prominence in January when described how it built an aggressive police force in the span of two years, and used it to supply half the town income in 2020. The court has been suspended since then, and half the police department, including former Chief Mike Jones and his second-in-command, resigned or were let go.

Last week the Alabama Legislature passed a bill in response to Brookside that would cap at 10 percent the amount of revenue from fines and fees that a municipality can take in. The town now faces 12 lawsuits, including one that names all the police officers and claims a conspiracy under federal civil Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization statutes.