Alabama Circuit Court Judge Marvin Wiggins has been suspended with pay after the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed charges against him that he threatened to throw defendants who had no money to pay their fines into jail unless they donated blood, reports Al.com. The notices defendants received did not include any warning of incarceration or that they would need an attorney, according to the commission complaint.The charges were brought to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, which could reprimand, suspend, or remove Wiggins from the bench. The commission brought the charges Jan. 8, but they were not made public until Friday. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21.
All but six of the 47 defendants who ended up donating blood at a mobile LifeSouth blood bank outside the Perry County Courthouse were defendants on Wiggins’ docket, the complaint charged. “Judge Wiggins’ conduct regarding the incarceration of criminal defendants and his conduct in threatening to incarcerate those defendants who did not have ‘any money’ unless they gave blood were so coercive as to be reprehensible and inexcusable,” the complaint states. No one went to jail and Wiggins’ and other judges are under pressure to collect fines, the judge’s attorney said. Wiggins admits he used “very poor language” in encouraging the defendants to donate blood, the attorney said. Wiggins has served as a judge for the Fourth Judicial Circuit since 1999.