Attorney Ken Guin arrested at county BOE

By NICOLE SMITH and ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 4/13/17

Attorney Ken Guin was arrested for trespassing at the Walker County Board of Education on Wednesday, although he said he was only fulfilling his duties as an attorney for his client — his wife.

A deposition was being …

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Attorney Ken Guin arrested at county BOE

Posted

Attorney Ken Guin was arrested for trespassing at the Walker County Board of Education on Wednesday, although he said he was only fulfilling his duties as an attorney for his client — his wife.

A deposition was being held at the board’s Central Office on Wednesday, regarding the case against Guin’s wife, Carbon Hill Elementary/Junior High Principal Tanya Guin.

Mrs. Guin was placed on paid administrative leave last August for potential ethics violations, and an investigator in the case recommended in January that she be terminated of her position. An upcoming hearing date has yet to be announced.

Guin said Mrs. Guin was given an accounting report in advance and was told to attend the deposition on Wednesday. She was told she could have an attorney with her.

In the deposition, Guin said he was representing Mrs. Guin, while her other attorney, John Saxon, couldn’t be present, as he had to be in Birmingham for a docket call at 8:30 a.m. Walker County Superintendent of Education Dr. Jason Adkins declined to delay the hearing an hour so Saxon could attend, he said.

Attorney Charles Tatum represented Adkins, Guin said. A bookkeeper was also present with a lawyer, he said.

Adkins could not be reached for comment on Wednesday,

Guin said the deposition was scheduled for the school board’s meeting room. A video camera was set up pointed at where Mrs. Guin was to sit, he said, with a court reporter also present.

Everyone at the deposition was asked to turn their cell phones off, according to Guin, but he explained he had made a promise to exchange text messages and updates with Saxon from the deposition as it continued.

Guin was told he would have to leave if he didn’t turn his cell phone off, but he refused to leave his wife.

After about 90 minutes, Guin heard Saxon was coming, so he turned his cell phone off. But he said by that point the board insisted that he leave the hearing anyway due to the texting.

“I said, ‘I’m her lawyer. I’m not leaving,” Guin said.

The Jasper Police Department was called to the Central Office. After some discussion, Jasper Police Chief J.C. Poe became involved, and Guin told his position again. At one point, Guin said Poe said he could stay.

“Then they decided they would wait until John Saxon got there,” he said. That led to board officials telling Mrs. Guin to go to another room. Guin got up to follow her, but he was told he couldn’t go back with her to that room.

“This is my client, and I’m not leaving, and she’s not going back there alone,” he quoted himself as saying.

At around that point, according to Guin, Poe asked Adkins if he wanted Guin arrested for trespassing, and Adkins said he did.

He said Poe asked Guin to leave, but Guin said, “You’re going to have to arrest me. I’m not leaving.’” 

He added, “So they cuffed me and took me and booked me. I got out on a signature bond.” 

Other reports also indicated he was led away in handcuffs, and Poe confirmed the trespassing charge.

“He was booked in the city jail and released,” he said, also confirming that Guin signed documents to be released and that he will be required to appear in court at a later date.

However, Guin said he was not trespassing, especially as he was invited to be there as an attorney in the case.

“A lawyer can’t be trespassing at a hearing for a client he is representing. Anyone is not trespassing when you are at a public meeting,” Guin said. “I was not going to leave my wife alone in that room that was obviously set up like a courtroom and people sitting up where the board members sit.”

“I wasn’t going to leave my wife alone in there,” he said, although as the incident unfolded he told her what he thought might be about to happen — and what she should do if it did.

“I wrote her a note. I said they may arrest me,” Guin said, adding he told her if that happened she should say she would not answer any questions without legal counsel present.

However, Saxon did arrive to represent her, and the deposition continued, with Adkins asking the questions.

He also said Adkins was using his own cell phone to take photos of Guin as he was being led out of the room. He said those photos were put on Facebook later in the day.

In other deposition hearings, Guin has never heard of use of cell phones being an issue, nor is there a law forbidding it.

“They had already said it was OK to record audio,” he said. “All I was doing, since they wouldn’t accommodate Tanya’s other lawyer — he and I agreed we would text back and forth as the hearing went on.” 

Guin said he only raised his voice once during the incident, when Tatum was interrupting him.

While concerned about how he felt county school officials treated him that morning, Guin was in a good mood later in the day. He noted that Poe and all the police officers “couldn’t have been nicer to me” and that he had to hold up a striped shirt for his mug shot. Guin even marveled that the fingerprinting is done on electronic pads.

Later in the afternoon, he arrived 10 minutes late for municipal court in Carbon Hill, where he is the municipal judge. “I told everyone sitting there, ‘Well, I understand what you are going through. I just got arrested,” he said, laughing. “They all cracked up. The lawyers already knew what had happened. It pretty much spread around pretty quick.” 

However, he added, “It’s a sad state of affairs when that is what they are spending board time and money doing.” 

He said they have also denied him multiple times to speak about the situation to the board at a meeting.

“They need a come-to-Jesus meeting about doing things right,” he said.