Alabama judge charged with theft, ethics violation resigns

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — A north Alabama judge accused of misusing court funds and stealing money from clients has resigned from his post.

Former Limestone County District Judge Doug Patterson announced he would be stepping down effective July 3, according to a letter to the Alabama Supreme Court filed Tuesday.

“The unescapable reality is that I cannot financially, mentally, or emotionally continue to fight the full weight, power and resources of the State of Alabama in two different theaters,” Patterson wrote in the letter, saying the move should not be viewed as an admission of guilt.

The former judge was suspended after being indicted on felony charges of use of official position for personal gain, financial exploitation of the elderly and theft of property in December 2019. He has pleaded not guilty to the counts, news outlets reported.

The Alabama attorney general’s office accused Patterson of using $47,000 intended for juvenile court programs on personal expenses. The former judge also was accused of improperly withdrawing about $47,800 from the account of a nursing home resident for whom he had served as a conservator, as well as between $499 and $1,500 from the estate of another client.

The case was scheduled for trial in June but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, news outlets reported. Jury trials in Alabama remained paused until September. Patterson was set to face a separate trial at the Alabama Court of the Judiciary on the ethics charge this week, but that trial was also postponed.