Blair court date set for May 24

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Staff Writer

May 16, 2000 10PM

Pike County Revenue Commissioner Curtis Blair will get his day in court next week, more than two years after being indicted by a Pike County Grand Jury.

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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.

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

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

Rochester will hear the case at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Pike County Courthouse.

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 to hear the case. The cited their working relationship with Blair when they asked to be recused.

Rochester was ordered by Chief Justice Perry Hooper Sr. to hear the case at that time.

Rochester recently notified officials in Pike County he will hear the case on May 24.

Cervera did not comment on the case because of ongoing litigation.

Blair continues to hold the office of Pike County revenue commissioner for a six-year term began in 1997. Blair formerly served as tax collector before the collector’s and the tax asssessor’s offices were merged in 1997.

Blair’s case stems from a Grand Jury indictment issued in April 1998. The Grand Jury found 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… (refuse) to pay penalties and/or interest owed on the delinquent taxes of himself or that of his family."