Chestnut resigns as municipal judge

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, February 1, 2018

State Rep. Prince Chestnut has resigned as the city of Selma’s municipal judge.

Chestnut has served as municipal judge in Selma for more than a decade after his initial appointment in 2007.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to have served as municipal judge for the City of Selma,” Chestnut wrote in a letter of resignation. “My service in that capacity has included multiple terms and interfacing with three different administrations, several police chiefs, and considering thousands of cases.”

Chestnut said he decided to resign to give someone else an opportunity to preside as the city’s municipal judge. Chestnut said also wants to spend more time with his family.

“I am choosing to leave the position of judge and allow someone else an opportunity to serve in that capacity. I do not wish to be a lifetime appointee as a municipal judge,” the representative wrote.

Chestnut said he will continue his legal work at his law practice and continue to serve District 67 in the Alabama Legislature. Chestnut was elected in a special election in April 2017 to serve the remainder of now Selma Mayor Darrio Melton’s term.

Chestnut has qualified to run for reelection in the June primaries.

During his tenure as municipal judge, Chestnut said courtesy, respect, justice, mercy and being consistent with his rulings were the principles he used to preside over the court.

Chestnut said he is proud of several accomplishments during his time as municipal judge and feels like he is leaving the court in better shape than it was when he was appointed.

“When I was appointed in 2007, there were multiple issues with the court,” Chestnut wrote.

“Over time, through diligence and hard work, many of those issues have been addressed and corrected. We were able to change the culture and our municipal court is better as a result.”

Chestnut helped the court acquire two prosecutors and positions for two defense attorneys during his time.

“We now have two prosecutors instead of one, which improves communication and representation of the positions of complainants and victims; and, two contract defense lawyer positions have been created in order to give all persons facing the potential threat of jail time someone to guide or represent them even when they cannot afford a lawyer,” Chestnut wrote.

Chestnut said he has worked within the court’s budget during the last decade to facilitate programs that assisted with job training, recovery from alcohol and substance abuse, GED program and more.

It is unclear who will fill Chestnut’s seat at this time.

“It is my hope that my successor is someone with knowledge of the inner workings of the municipal court, constitutional law, is respected by the local bar and has demonstrated a willingness to do justice for all persons who may come before him,” he wrote.

“Our court has been able to avoid lawsuits against the city brought by public interest groups. Meanwhile, other cities with much more resources within this state have not.”

Chestnut said there are several issues that he is focused on in the legislature.