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Suspended county probate judge responds to inquiry commission's complaint against him

Randy Jinks running for Talladega County probate judge

Randy Jinks won the 2018 race for probate judge of Talladega County. 

Suspended Talladega County Probate Judge Randy Jinks has filed a 44-page response to the 78-page complaint against him compiled by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission and being investigated by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.

Jinks’ response is not a blanket denial, although he does deny the majority of the accusations. There are others he admits are true or likely true, but that in the context of the report, they are exaggerated, distorted, twisted or misunderstood to prejudice the court against him.

Some, he said, were part of private conversations, albeit ones that took place in his office, that no one else was supposed to hear. He made similar responses to the JIC investigation, and those responses are included in the complaint currently being considered.

For original complaint, click here.

For Jinks' reponse, click here.

It does not appear that a date for a final hearing in the matter has been set. The Court of the Judiciary, which investigates claims made against judges, has the power to reprimand, suspend or remove a judge if they find the complaint is valid.

Although the body of the complaint is not specific about the remedy being sought, a couple of lengthy footnotes indicate that JIC determined removal was the only option.

“The failure to take responsibility and show remorse is treated as evidence that a sanction such as a reprimand or suspension would not cause the judge to change his ... behavior, leaving removal the only option,” according to the footnote. “A judge’s offering explanations and excuses and/or blaming his conduct on others, i.e. justifying his misconduct, confirms that the judge sees nothing wrong with his misconduct and is likely to repeat it; such responses demonstrate an inability to appreciate the importance of and conform to the standards of judicial conduct or, more specifically here, demonstrate judge Jinks’s inability to overcome his grossly poor judgement. In fact, trying to shift blame to others presents a further compelling reason for removal: to prevent a judge from retaliating”

In his response, Jinks writes he “will not assume responsibility for accusations that are blatantly false, which is true of many of the allegations put forth in this complaint. (He) should not be chastised for his refusal to admit to false accusations, which make up the majority of this complaint.”

In another part of the response, he states, “The employees (of the probate office) collaborated and colluded over an extended period of time, compiling information, recording private conversations in a judicial office and jointly fil(ing) a Judicial Inquiry complaint against the respondent.”

There are over 128 specific instances referred to in the complaint, falling under the categories of racist and/or racially insensitive demeanor; sexually inappropriate demeanor and/or other inappropriate comments to and/or about women; inappropriate expression of anger and or use of and/or allowance of profanity; other conduct unbefitting the judicial office; continued inappropriate demeanor despite notice of impropriety; denial, excuse and shifting of blame; inappropriate use of work assigned, password protected computer and cellular telephone and/or appearance thereof and additional abuse of the prestige of the office including seeking the early release of Ms. R.T. from her criminal sentence and seeking for a friend’s sale of life insurance policy.

The complaint also refers to Jinks’ tenure as parks advertising and marketing manager with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, from which he was fired in 2015. Under cause for termination, the department cited inattention to the job, insubordination and disruptive conduct, including ignoring his supervisor’s instructions not to discuss the termination of his former girlfriend as a waitress while representing the department. He had been suspended just a few months before he was terminated for using a state email account to send out various political opinions to other state employees. He was also cited for unprofessional behavior in his previous two annual evaluations.

In his response, Jinks says, “These allegations pre-date being duly elected by the citizens of Talladega County, have no relevancy and should be stricken from the record. The respondent denies that this allegation constitutes a violation of any rule applicable to the respondent.”

Other allegations deal with inappropriate use of county-owned, password protected cell phone and computer. According to the complaint, Jinks “used or allowed someone to use the Google search engine at (10:20 p.m.) to search for the phrase Adam and Eve. As a result, the user selected a link that took him to the landing page for the online sales website Adam and Eve. The user visited the following subpages on the Adam and Eve website: best sex toys for men; sex dolls, love dolls and blow-up dolls; ultimate fantasy doll — kitty sex dolls; sexy men’s underwear — thongs, briefs and g-strings for men and hose thongs.”

In his response, Jinks said he had “no recollection of any activities associated with this allegation.”

The complaint also says “the county-owned, password protected cell phone assigned to Judge Jinks also contains nine photographs or images of Judge Jinks in various poses (front, side and rear) wearing only a tight, short swimsuit and standing in a small kitchen.”

In Jinks' response, he wrote, “The respondent admits taking and deleting nine photos of himself in a swimsuit on the county-owned phone. The respondent admits these photos should not have been taken on his county owned phone, however, the inclusion of this allegation in the complaint does not seek to preserve the integrity of the judicial system or best serve the purpose of judicial discipline but rather seeks to punish the respondent by public embarrassment.”

Although not a direct response to the this statement, the JIC complaint also contains a footnote that says “the purposes of judicial discipline are … not to punish the judge but to preserve the integrity of the judicial system, restore public confidence in the system to assure the public that unethical judicial conduct is not tolerated nor condoned and, when necessary, to safeguard the bench, court staff and public from those who are unfit to serve.”

More pending issues

Before proceeding to hearing, there is at least one other issue that will have to be resolved. Sometime after the complaint was filed and Jinks was suspended, he fired his lawyer and hired Amanda Hardy to represent him.

A representative of JIC issued a subpoena for Hardy, ordering her to be interviewed earlier this week and advising her that her continued representation of Jinks constitutes a conflict of interest and that she should be removed as his counsel of record.

Jinks asked the Court of the Judiciary to quash the subpoena so that Hardy could finish crafting the response.

The court did cancel Hardy’s deposition scheduled for this week, but the next step was not entirely clear.

“The court will enter a separate order setting this matter for a hearing so that a determination can be made whether attorney Hardy can be called as a witness and whether she will be able to continue representing Judge Jinks.”