Date still not set for Blair case

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2000

Staff Writer

The fate of Pike County Revenue Commissioner Curtis Blair is still unknown.

Blair of Troy was indicted by a Pike County Grand Jury in April 1998.

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That indictment stated Blair "did use an official position or office…with the intent to obtain direct personal financial gain." A second count stated the Grand Jury found Blair "did with the intent to knowingly and willfully obtain direct personal financial gain, did obtain direct personal financial gain by failing and/or refusing to pay penalties and/or interest owed on the delinquent taxes of himself or that of his family."

Blair, who is being represented by N.J. Cervera, entered a "not guilty" plea in June of last year. A month later, he withdrew his demand for a trial by jury.

Almost two years after he was indicted, the Blair’s fate is in the hands of a Clay County judge.

Judge John Rochester of the 40th Judicial Circuit in Ashland will be the one to determine whether or not Blair is guilty of using his office for personal gain.

But, the case still has not gone to trial and part of that is because of the nature of the case.

In August 1998, the case stalled when all three of Pike County’s circuit judges and the two district judges recused themselves and asked the Alabama Supreme Court to find a judge from outside the circuit.

That is when Rochester entered the story by being ordered by Chief Justice Perry Hooper Sr. to hear the case.

About a month ago, Rochester said he has not scheduled the Pike County case because he has "been trying to put out other fires."

At that time he said the case would be "something I’ll do very quickly" and added he wanted to schedule the trial within a month’s time. But, that hasn’t happened.

The District Attorney’s Office has received no word as to when the case will go to trial.

In the meantime, Blair continues to hold the office of revenue commissioner, which he has held since June 1979. His last six-year term began in 1997.