Tour found guilty

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Trial said about treatment of indigent



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Selma Attorney Faya Rose Tour& was found guilty Wednesday in Selma Municipal Court for failure to obey and disorderly conduct in a Jan. 9 incident, and fined $250 for each charge.

Judge Cliff Price said he realized Tour& was &8220;zealously representing her client,&8221; but he had to rule with a municipal ordinance that gives police authority to arrest persons at their discretion. Price ordered Tour& to sign a signature bond waiving the fees. He advised her she had a right to appeal.

Selma Police Officer Jimmy Crowe arrested Tour& on Jan. 9 in municipal court. Crowe, along with three other officers, were in court when Crowe testified he arrested Tour& to maintain order. Tour& said she became animated when she witnessed Judge Valerie Chittom find a Selma man guilty without representation from a lawyer.

Tour& said she intervened and offered her services to Roosevelt Cleveland because a conviction meant he would be sent to prison if he were found guilty. According to testimony, Cleveland’s mother had an asthma attack and had to be transported to the hospital.

The proceedings began at 10 a.m. and concluded after 5 p.m. At times it was standing-room-only. (See related story.)

Chittom testified that when Tour& became upset she did not order the police to arrest her. &8220;I was telling her to leave and all four officers were telling her to leave,&8221; said Chittom, at times appearing annoyed at attorney Richard Norton. A former municipal court judge more than 30 years ago, and a retired Dallas County Circuit Judge with a reputation for his control of court proceedings, Norton represented Tour& along with Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Ala., Tour&’s husband, and son Kindaka Sanders.

Sen. Sanders said he felt her serving on the appeal was a direct conflict of interest, since Chittom found his son, Kindaka guilty in municipal court. Her ruling was appealed to circuit court where the jury ruled in his favor.

The day-long trial had been postponed twice and Tour& said she knew she would be found guilty. But without the trial, Tour& said, she could not bring the plight of &8220;people like Roosevelt Cleveland&8221; to light. She said the municipal court system need to be reformed, since many defendants are sentenced with no legal representation.

During the trial, Chittom testified Tour& called her &8220; a white, racist judge.&8221; Norton asked, &8220;is it the responsibility of a judge to tell people what the problem is, and set them right?&8221; Chittom testified she did not know about Cleveland’s probation hold for circuit court and it wasn’t her job to know.

As for Tour&’s arrest, Norton asked the court if anywhere &8220;in the United States of America, an outsider can come into a courtroom and remove a lawyer trying to do their job?&8221;

Chittom testified she had no animosity toward Tour&, who pointed out conflicting testimony given by Alston Keith, the city prosecutor who was also called as a witness to testify. Tour& said Keith’s testimony would be the basis for perjury proceedings against Chittom.