Lagniappe has uncovered more explicit detail of former Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas's alleged and admitted actions, via testimony in a recently obtained copy of the his disbarment orders.
Thomas, who is currently running for state senate in District 33 against incumbent Vivian Davis Figures, was found to have been "less than candid," and "simply unthruthful" in his testimony during the hearing, the order from the Alabama State Bar Association states. And the bar also stated explicitly its belief Thomas did indeed spank prisoners for sexual gratification while he was a circuit judge.
Sen. Figures testified against Thomas in both his criminal trial last year and the bar's ethics hearing in late February of this year. He announced his run against her afterward. Her son, Akil Figures also testified at both and was alleged to be one of the young men Thomas spanked. The bar determined Thomas to be untruthful in their hearing about the spanking of Akil Figures. Thomas denied doing so, according to the order.
Including Figures, the transcripts of testimony from current and former inmates at the Mobile County Metro Jail offer little new information, but Thomas's testimony and the conclusions reached by the disciplinary board tell a different story altogether.
"According to the testimony of Akil Figures, Thomas would visit him at the jail while he was a defendant on Thomas' docket. In addition, Figures testified that Thomas brought him to the Mobile County Courthouse one night after picking him up from jail. Once at the courthouse, Thomas took Figures to another room, believed to be Room 806, and ordered him to drop his pants and underwear. Thomas then spanked Figures several times with his belt," the order says.
The Disciplinary Board found Thomas' testimony "both unreliable and untruthful," finding that "Thomas did, in fact, spank Akil Figures."
The board's rulings also supported seven other transcripts of testimony against Thomas, finding several accounts of alleged lewd behavior to be "reliable and truthful."
"(Witness 2) stated that it was clear that he could either take spankings or go to jail. (Witness 2) testified that on one occasion, he turned around while being paddled and that Thomas' penis was exposed."
"During the spanking, (Witness 3) felt a hand touch his buttocks around his anus," another account reads.
Thomas was facing third-degree sexual assault and first- and second-degree sodomy at his criminal trial, but found not guilty on those counts as well as several others.
Other accounts from one-time or current prisoners recall Thomas' penis being erect during paddlings and even requiring one youthful offender to call him every day anytime he left his house while on probation.
While Thomas did not have to offer testimony at his criminal trial, he was compelled to defend himself before the disciplinary board hearing.
The board found Thomas' testimony to be disingenuous.
"Thomas admitted to spanking other young men in the community. According to Thomas, he spanked up to five individuals while serving as a circuit judge," the order states. "Thomas admitted that the five individuals would have only known him as Judge Thomas. Thomas also admitted that the individuals' pants and underwear may have been down during the spanking and that he may have instructed the individuals to drop their pants."
Under the appropriate circumstances, Thomas would tell the disciplinary board, corporal punishment would be an effective form of discipline. However, Thomas refused to expound upon what those circumstances should be, the order said.
In addition to admitting to spanking young men while he was a judge, Thomas also said he visited young men at Mobile County Metro Jail.
"While Thomas maintained that these meetings were not secret, he also admitted that many times there would not have been a record of such meetings and that the inmates' lawyers an the District Attorney's Office would not be present or aware of the meetings."
The difference in between Thomas' testimony and that of those who testified against him, Thomas claimed, was that he never spanked or paddled any of the young men who provided testimony via transcript and during the hearing, the order said.
"In this and other respects, the Board finds Thomas' testimony to be untruthful," the order says.
The order summarizes the hearing's outcome saying Thomas took part in a "pattern of improper ex parte contacts with inmates and criminal defendants on his docket."
"The board finds that these spankings and paddlings were not a form of mentoring or discipline but were rather engaged in by Thomas for his own sexual gratification," the order concludes. "It is clear to the board that these young men were coerced into complying with Thomas under the threat of being sentenced to or returned to jail. Moreover, these spankings were not among those of the nature that a parent might give to their own child, but rather were sexually motivated assaults."
The second disbarment order shows that Thomas did not contest any of the bar's findings and he, in fact, admitted to preparing a deed while his law license was suspended, failed to notify clients his law license had been suspended and then lied about his activity in a deposition held at the Alabama State Bar's office.
Lagniappe's attempts to reach Thomas for this article were unsuccessful.
Alabama State Bar attorneys had to present "clear and convincing" evidence that Thomas was guilty of misconduct, which is a lower standard than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" necessary in criminal trials.
Thomas was found not guilty of his alleged crimes in Mobile County Circuit Court and several of the charges were thrown out because the statute of limitations had expired. He has never faced any federal charges, although the Justice Department recently told Lagniappe an investigation was still open.