The Supreme Court yesterday declined the plea of an Alabama judge to review his conviction and three-year prison sentence for offering to trade judicial favors for sexual favors.
A Madison County jury in Huntsville convicted Thomas D. McDonald 3 1/2 years ago, during his second six year term as an elected judge. Now 62, he had been on the bench since 1962.
The conviction automatically removed McDonald from office. He [WORD ILLEGIBLE] to jail last month to serve a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] imposed as a condition of earlier [WORD ILLEGIBLE] The term will be deducted [WORD ILLEGIBLE] his prison sentence.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE] jury - with a special, outside judge presiding - tried McDonald on an indictment involving Myra L. Braidfoot, a co-defendant with her husband in a grand larceny case pending before McDonald in 1971. She was 19 at the time and on probation for a forgery conviction.
She testified at the trial that in two private meetings in McDonald's courthouse office he told her she was "attractive."
At a third meeting in his chambers, Braidfoot swore, he "put his arm around my waist" and told her he would discuss and "maybe take care" of her case if she would meet him at a Huntsville motel.
Braidfoot agreed to meet him, but didn't. Because she had neither explicitly promised nor bestowed sexual favors, McDonald argued, he hadn't violated Alabama's bribery law.
To show a pattern of improper conduct, the prosecution four other women who had been defendants in McDonald's court in a two-year period ended in March, 1973.
The women testified that the judge invited each of them into his chambers when no one else was present, closed the door, offered leniency and proposed a rendezvous away from the courthouse after fonding, hugging or kissing them.
One of the woman, Laura Blann testified that after she had told McDonald she was guilty of a forgery charge, he "told me not ever to plead guilty . . . that he would talk for me and get everything squared away."
Then, she said, he "told me I had beautiful eyes, "made improper advances and proposed a tryst. She said she didn't reply and left without incident.
In a second encounter, Blann said, McDonald gave her a bottle of bourbon, put his hands on her and proposed they meet later at a motel. This time she pleaded a conflicting dental appointment.
Afterward, her brother was charged - falsely, she contended - with auto theft. McDonald agreed to meet her after-hours, in a realty office where, she said, she agreed to his request to have sex with her. Subsequently, her brother was released on $100 bond.
On another occasion, Blann got a speeding ticket and didn't pay the fine. She testified that McDonald sent her a letter threatening to cite her for contempt unless she came to his office. She went and got a continuance after, she said, he fondled her but let her go when she asked him to.
Finally, in 1973, when her husband got into difficulties, she again met the judge in the realty office, she said.