Alabama court upholds conviction against Birmingham Water Works board member

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the 2019 conviction of a former Birmingham Water Works Board member on felony ethics charges.

On Friday, the court denied Sherry Lewis’s request for a mistrial, writing that it “did not believe she is entitled to relief.” Two years ago, Lewis was convicted of using her office for personal gain or for the gain of a family member and voting on matters in which she or her family members had financial interest.

She faced two to 20 years in prison for the pair of felony convictions, but only spent 22 days in jail and was sentenced to time served in December 2019. The case against Lewis centered on allegations that Lewis took advantage of her position on the water board.

Prosecutors said that she violated state ethics laws by receiving free trips to Chicago, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., tickets to events, cash, meals, and jobs for her son from city contractors.

Following the October 2019 trial, Brett Bloomston, one of Lewis’s attorneys, vowed to challenge the verdict. “We’re obviously disappointed by the jury’s verdict,” Bloomston said at the time. “We are certainly planning on appealing.” Lewis’s attorneys called on the Court of Criminal Appeals to declare a mistrial, but the court denied that request on Friday, upholding her conviction.

“Lewis sought a mistrial – and only a mistrial – as a remedy for the circuit court’s hypothetical during its supplemental jury instructions,” Judge Richard Minor wrote in the court’s Friday ruling. “But a mistrial is a drastic remedy, appropriate only ‘when a fundamental error in a trial vitiates its result.’ I do not believe a mistrial was warranted here” [MSN].


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