The judge kicked off his campaign on the Calhoun County Courthouse steps with endorsements by several local law enforcement officials
Laird faces Republican Debra Jones in the Nov. 2 election.
Although he was announcing his campaign, the judge used the opportunity to address the Anniston City Council’s inquiry into illegal and illicit activities at City Hall even before the questions started.
“There’s a lot of things I could talk about today,” Laird said. “There’s a lot of things I really want to talk about and say, but unfortunately because of the canons of judicial ethics, some things I just can’t talk and don’t need to talk about even though I’d like to.”
Laird has been subpoenaed four times to the Anniston City Council’s inquiry into alleged illegal and illicit activities at City Hall. According to City Councilman Ben Little, the council wants to talk to Laird about his business license for the Courthouse Café, a downtown restaurant.
Laird has filed successful motions to quash the first three subpoenas and intends to file a motion to quash the last one, he said.
This was the first time Laird answered questions about the inquiry publicly.
Laird believes the council members are using what should be an internal investigation to set themselves up as a public grand jury.
“As far as any alleged corruption in the courthouse, there is none. There hasn’t been any since I’ve been in this courthouse,” Laird said. “Some members on the council just want to sling mud. It’s nothing but politics.”
Laird singled out a 2002 ruling he made in a case Councilman Ben Little brought against the city of Anniston. Laird ruled in favor of the city.
“He’s been after me ever since, and this is his opportunity to sling mud at me,” Laird said.
Little said that was absurd.
“Yes. I thought he was wrong then. I think he’s wrong now, but I did not harbor any ill will against him,” Little said.
Laird also talked about allegations funds from a settlement with from Monsanto -- which produced PCBs at its plant in Anniston until the 1970s -- are not reaching the people affected by the pollution the plant created. Laird was one of the judges involved in the mediation of the case in 2003.
“The disbursement of PCB money is between the attorney and client,” Laird said. “Whenever a case is settled in court, whether it is a PCB case or a simple wreck case, the case is settled and then the disbursement of monies is between the attorney and the client. The judge has no control over that contract, over that disbursement.”
Laird was first appointed as judge in 1990 and has served 20 years in Calhoun and Cleburne counties.
Contact staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.