Jim Wooten (attorney)

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James M. Wooten (born c. 1962) is an attorney and presiding judge for the Brookside Municipal Court.

Wooten grew up in the Fultondale area. He earned his bachelor of arts in English and political science at UAB in 1984 and a juris doctorate from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law in 1987. He was admitted to the Alabama State Bar that year.

Wooten practiced employment and business law along with personal injury law, opening his own practice in 1998. In 1999 he began teaching property law and appellate practice at the Miles Law School in Fairfield. In 2009 the City of Birmingham filed a lawsuit seeking payment of unpaid business license fees. Wooten disputed that the fees were owed for work performed outside the city. The suit was dismissed in 2011. The city filed two later suits, one of which was dismissed when the disputed amount was paid and the second of which was dismissed following a settlement agreement.

Wooten moved his office outside of Birmingham in 2020. That same year, Wooten's niece filed a lawsuit claiming that he was not entitled to the $16,200 he had paid himself annually from her inheritance as administrator of her father's estate. Wooten paid Western Surety $262,668 to settle the lawsuit, but did not admit to any wrongdoing. She also filed a complaint with the Alabama State Bar over the same matter.

Wooten was appointed to preside over Brookside's municipal court, which met one evening a month, in November 2008. After Mike Jones was hired to lead the Brookside Police Department, the case load for traffic violations greatly increased, along with court fees, fines and forfeitures, eventually making up about half the town's revenues. Wooten's rulings have been the subject of several lawsuits filed against the city. He is not named in those suits because the law grants judges immunity for civil liability for their rulings.

After John Archibald published an exposé of the town's law enforcement practices in January 2022 Wooten agreed to recuse himself from all cases then before the court, but did not resign his position until December of that year, just prior to the Alabama Supreme Court ordering a 91-day suspension of his license to practice related to the Bar complaint filed by his niece. Because the suspension was for more than 90 days, the State Bar's disciplinary board would decide whether he could be reinstated. Because he resigned, the board closed the investigation without reaching a conclusion.

Marcus Jones presided over Brookside's court in Wooten's absence.

Wooten and his wife Tracy have two sons. As his sons grew, he volunteered as cubmaster of their Cub Scout pack, and as an assistant baseball coach.


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