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Judge Marvin Wiggins Tries to Squeeze Blood Out of Defendants

Image: Judge Marvin Wiggins Tries to Squeeze Blood Out of Defendants
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By    |   Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 10:09 AM

Alabama Judge Marvin Wiggins has sparked an ethics complaint by the Southern Poverty Law Center for telling a courtroom full of defendants they could donate blood or be jailed.

"If you do not have any money and you don't want to go to jail, consider giving blood today and bring me your receipt back," Wiggins said in a recording taken Sept. 17, CBS News reported. "Or the sheriff has enough handcuffs for those who do not have money."

The SPLC complaint alleges that the offer was unethical, amounted to extortion, and that no one received a promised $100 credit toward their fines, even after they presented receipts to the court clerk proving they donated blood at a mobile blood bank parked outside. Notably, no one was taken into police custody.

"This is a shocking disregard for not only judicial ethics but for the constitutional rights of defendants," said Sara Zampierin, an SPLC staff attorney. "People who couldn't pay their court debt with cash literally paid with their blood."

"I thought it was really unusual," James M. Barnes Jr., a lawyer who was in the courtroom that morning, told The New York Times. "I don’t know whether it’s legal or not. I don’t know if that violates half the Constitution."

Jill Evans, a vice president for LifeSouth, the company that collected the blood donations, said that all of the donated blood was quarantined and eventually discarded.

"We appreciate the judge’s attempt to support the community’s blood needs," she said. "However, LifeSouth prohibits blood donations from being considered as community service because it is potentially an unacceptable incentive for a volunteer donor."

Wiggins has a checkered history. Gov. Robert Bentley removed him in 2014 from the Alabama State University board of trustees due to conflict-of-interest violations.

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Alabama Judge Marvin Wiggins has sparked an ethics complaint by the Southern Poverty Law Center for telling a courtroom full of defendants they could donate blood or be jailed.
judge, marvin wiggins, squeeze, blood
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2015-09-21
Wednesday, 21 Oct 2015 10:09 AM
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