Thomason was assigned to hear a case Little, Palmore and Bennett filed against the McClellan Development Authority. The case claims that the MDA was formed improperly and therefore should not be a legally recognized entity.
A similar case was filed in October, by the same plaintiffs. It is pending before Judge Malcolm B. Street Jr.
Citing a quote from Little that appeared in Saturday’s Anniston Star that read, “we have the best judicial system money can buy,” Thomason said that Little would deny he had a fair hearing if Thomason ruled against him and the co-plaintiffs.
“Therefore I am recusing myself from this case,” he wrote.
Little had singled out circuit judges Joel Laird, Brian Howell and Thomason as recipients of campaign donations from Donald Stewart, one of the claimants in a lawsuit involving the Joint Powers Authority, the predecessor of the MDA.
In the previous lawsuit, Laird ruled the JPA was not a legally recognized board and that led to two years of limbo at McClellan, the former military base that was turned over to the local governments. The MDA was unable to sell any property because there was no paper trail giving it clear ownership and it could not purchase title insurance. Laird rescinded his ruling in April, allowing the JPA to come together long enough to pass its authority to the MDA, creating a clear path of ownership.
Little was not surprised to hear of the recusal this afternoon, but was surprised by the reason, he said.
“I said in the paper the other day, he can hear the case because the evidence is the evidence,” Little said. “When you put the evidence there, if the other side has something to refute what we’re saying, he’s just rule on the evidence.”
He stood by his comment about justice being for sale again citing Laird as one of those who has ruled in favor of the donor.
“Judge Laird has consistently upheld that wrongdoing,” Little said. “But I did not call him out of his name. This is now, it has stooped to a new low.”