Judge agrees to early probation release for man
by David Atchison
Oct 26, 2010 | 3069 views |  1 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A St. Clair County judge released a law student, who plans to seek a pardon for a 2001 assault conviction, from probation early.

Shay Golden, 31, of Pell City asked the court last month to release him from probation so he could seek a pardon for his 2001 assault conviction. He said it could take two to three years to get a pardon, and he wants to take the bar exam once he completes his course work at the Birmingham School of Law.

Golden, who is in his second year of law school, contended it was illegal for a probation sentence to exceed five years.

However, Circuit Court Judge Jim Hill disagreed and sided with the state on the issue.

“The court does not agree with the defendant that the maximum term of probation that the defendant can be sentenced to is five years,” Hill wrote in his order. “The court does agree that the maximum amount of probation that can be supervised is five years; however, the balance of the sentence can be spent on unsupervised probation.”

Golden and six other men were charged with attempted murder in the June 11, 2000, brutal attack on Jamie Brock, 40, of Pell City.

In accordance with a plea agreement, the attempted murder charge against Golden was reduced to first-degree assault.

Golden was given a 10-year split sentence.

He said in court last month that he served two years, five months and 11 days of a three-year prison sentenced, and he was released from prison Dec. 16, 2003.

In accordance to the original plea agreement, Golden was to serve five years under supervised probation and the remainder of the 10-year sentence on unsupervised probation.

“We respect the court’s decision and, as we stated in court, an individual with a split sentence can legally be on probation for more than a term of five years,” St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor said. “The judge does retain jurisdiction to amend any part of a split sentence.”

Prosecutors said Golden’s probation was scheduled to end in less than a year, in July 2011.

In Hill’s order, he releases Golden early from his probation.

“The court, having said that, finds that this defendant served a term of time within the Department of Corrections. That upon release he graduated from college and is currently attending Birmingham School of Law. Further, the defendant has informed the court that he intends to apply for a pardon with the intent of taking the bar exam to become an attorney in the State of Alabama,” Hill wrote in his order. “The Court, after reviewing the sentence, finds that within a year this defendant would have served all of his probation, whether supervised or unsupervised, and the defendant has now been placed by his probation officer on unsupervised probation.

“Further, the defendant has done all things required of him, has not been guilty of re-offending and, in fact, it is apparent is taking his life in entirely a different direction,” Hill wrote. “Therefore, it is ordered that the defendant, Shay Golden, is discharged from the term of probation heretofore ordered in this court, and the court deems that he has completed all requirements of his sentence.”

Golden said he was thankful for the ruling.

“I know that my involvement in this incident brought sadness to many people, and I apologize sincerely for that,” Golden said in a written statement Tuesday. “I have paid my debt to society for the mistake that was made. All I want to do is to take advantage of the opportunities that I am afforded and to try and better myself through these opportunities. I have learned a great deal from this terrible experience, and I hope to help others by sharing what I have learned. I am thankful for the ruling of the court, and now I can continue to move forward in hopes of helping others.”