In light of the ongoing cases involving Zachery Shipman and Allen Todd, each facing a charge of misdemeanor assault, Samarria Munnerlyn Dunson has taken the decision to recuse herself from the proceedings. This follows a motion filed by attorney Terry Luck, which requested Dunson’s recusal and the appointment of an external judge to preside over the cases.
According to court records, the trials for these cases are scheduled for December 8th and are currently under the jurisdiction of Judge Milton Westry. Despite the request for an external judge, it has been denied, as stated in the court records.
Verdicts in municipal court are rendered solely by the judge, as there are no juries present.
According to Luck, Dunson had a bias against his clients due to her disapproval of two plea bargains. The first plea deal involved the men pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, while the second deal would have had them plead guilty to public intoxication. Luck claimed that both plea offers were approved by the City of Montgomery and Dameion Pickett, the co-captain of the Harriott II, who was also the victim in the assault cases.
Cell phone cameras captured the resulting melee and the footage quickly went viral.
On October 27th, they both appeared before Dunson. However, their hearings were postponed as plea negotiations failed.
Luck stated that Shipman had filed misdemeanor assault charges against Pickett just two days before the hearings. According to video footage, Pickett allegedly went after Shipman and hit him in the head after the fight had ended. The attorney clarified that the charges against Pickett were not a part of the trial strategy.
According to Dunson’s order, the defendant and his co-defendants showed up in court on the day of trial. The court provided ample time for the parties to negotiate a resolution in all the cases. During the proceedings, the defendant’s attorney informed the court that Mr. Pickett had been served with a complaint filed by defendant Shipman. Subsequently, the complainant agreed to a plea deal where the defendant would plead guilty to Public Intoxication and avoid serving any jail time.
According to the Court, the plea agreement raised concerns as Mr. Pickett did not have the representation of a defense counsel. In municipal court, every defendant is assigned an attorney unless they appear with a retained attorney.
According to the motion, the City of Montgomery opted to issue a summons to City employee Pickett instead of arresting them. However, Todd and Shipman were arrested and had to spend twelve hours in jail even after posting bond, despite the City’s decision not to arrest Pickett.
Dunson tackled the aforementioned accusations in his order.
According to the order, the Court does not have jurisdiction over the events that resulted in Mr. Pickett and other city employees facing a complaint. The order states that the City of Montgomery magistrate and the Montgomery Police Department are independent agencies that are not under the Court’s supervision.
According to the Court, any concerns that the defendant may have about the handling of his arrest compared to that of other defendants are not relevant to the Court’s proceedings and will not be addressed.
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