Judge finds Cain not guilty

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Selma City Councilman Reid Cain attended a council work session Thursday without a legal cloud hanging over his head for the first time in nearly a year.

A visiting municipal judge, Troy Massey of Montgomery, found the Ward 2 councilman not guilty of a charge of harassment levied against him by a Selma police officer.

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Council President George Evans asked the city’s attorney, Jimmy Nunn, about payment for Cain’s legal fees. Nunn said he was unsure about the fee question.

“This case is just like any other defendant that would go to court,” Nunn said. “He’s a council member. I guess it would go before the council.”

Nunn said he didn’t think any other council member had appeared in municipal court.

Selma City Hall accused Cain. Officer Evelyn Ghant also accused Cain of grabbing her left arm and turning her around to face him an attempt to get her name.

The incident followed a Selma City Council meeting Aug. 13, 2007, which evolved into a shouting match between council President George Evans and Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw. Ghant was on security duty at the time and did not remove Crenshaw at Evans’ request.

Cain went to find out her name after the meeting. That’s when Ghant said Cain harassed her. Ghant could not be reached for comment after Massey handed down his decision. Cain declined to talk about the decision.

Evans also asked Nunn about the council’s authority to have people removed from the meeting if they become unruly. The council president said he had contacted the League of Cities, which told him the person with the gavel has jurisdiction over the meeting. If the council had a sergeant-at-arms, that person could remove those deemed out of order.

“What the League said to me point blank is if the chair says remove the council member, the council member should be removed,” Evans said.

Nunn said the breakdown comes when the officer doesn’t respond.

Councilman Cecil Williamson of Ward 1 wants the council to hire a sergeant-at-arms or a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy to keep peace in council chambers.

This was not the first time Cain has wound up in court over the August 2007 incident.

Last September, Judge Fred Bell, a municipal judge for Hayneville, found probable cause existed for an arrest warrant naming Cain.

Bell ordered the warrant issued for the misdemeanor harassment charge rather than the assault charge sought by Ghant.

At the time of the ruling, Bell said he felt Cain meant Ghant no physical harm, which meant the councilman didn’t intend to assault the police officer.

The hearing on the charges by Bell came after Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. requested the involvement of the city’s attorney in the case because he did not like the decision by the Office of Magistrate.

The magistrate’s office reviewed the case and denied Ghant’s request to sign a warrant against Cain.