Judge defends decision to give bond to parking garage attack sus - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Judge defends decision to give bond to parking garage attack suspect

MOBILE COUNTY, AL (WALA) -

A Mobile County judge under fire for some recent rulings is now breaking his silence. District Court Judge Bob Sherling has been criticized for being soft on criminals. Most of those jabs have come from the District Attorney's Office.

That's exactly what happened again Wednesday morning at Douglas Dunson's preliminary hearing. 

In an exclusive and rare interview with the judge, Sherling told FOX10 News he's sick of the criticism. He also made that very clear by bringing a poster board into court, which had the constitutional right to a bond printed on it. In the courtroom, he also asked the assistant district attorney on the case "which part of it they wanted him to ignore." In his more than ten years as a judge, Sherling said the push back on his recent bond decisions is the straw that broke the camel's back.

District Attorney Ashley Rich has been very outspoken about her disapproval of Judge Sherling. She was quoted a couple times last year after rulings for high profile cases: 

On May 18th, 2017: "We take the position that if you were out of bond and you committed offense no matter what it is and you don't have a right to stay out on bond, obviously Judge Sherling doesn't agree with that." 

And on August 24th, 2017: "It was obvious the judge [Sherling] had made up his mind about the bond, before we even got in here today."

Referencing a supreme court ruling from 2001, Sherling claims he's sticking to the laws laid out in the constitution. He also mentioned that judges don't have much say in how long criminals stay behind bars; that is strictly up to the Department of Corrections. 

"If they don't like the constitution saying that people are entitled to a bond, well then let's get a referendum to change the constitution if that's what people want," said Sherling.

The back and forth ramped up again when Sherling gave bond to Douglas Dunson, the man accused of attacking and trying to rape a woman in a downtown Mobile parking garage. The DA's Office thinks his bond should be revoked. 

"He's entitled to a bond, I set what I think is a reasonable bond...you can't just say this guy obviously needs to be in jail I'm gonna keep him there, my job is not to keep somebody in jail, my job is to apply the law and set a reasonable bond," said Sherling in response to the assistant district attorney on Wednesday.

Sherling gave Dunson a $40,000 bond. 

After the story aired, Rich sent us this response: "The United States Supreme Court law is clear: if the defendant is a danger to the community or a flight risk then he or she can be held with no bond. It is that simple. We follow the law in every courtroom."

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