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Daphne Picks New Municipal Judge

Featured on AL.com, January 29, 2013
By Marc D. Anderson

DAPHNE, Alabama -- After interviewing four highly qualified candidates to be the city’s next municipal judge Tuesday night, the council chose Michael Hoyt, a young attorney with strong ties to the city.

Hoyt, a partner with Silverhill-based Harbison & Hoyt LLC, has provided indigent defense services in Daphne Municipal Court for nearly 7 years.

Hoyt was interviewed for the position along with Michael A. Dasinger, municipal judge for Loxley and Elberta; Patrick Collins, a Daphne attorney and former Daphne City Councilman; and longtime Daphne attorney James Sweet.

The appointed post is served in two-year terms and is part time with an annual salary of $35,000.

After the interviews were complete, each council member chose his or her top two candidates and Hoyt was the only one with unanimous support. Dassinger was second with 5 votes from the 7-member council.

“Thank you for entrusting me with this great responsibility,” he told the council. “I am honored and truly humbled and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

During the interview process Councilman Robin LeJeune asked Hoyt what his indigent defense experience brings to the table.

“I think it gives you perspective from that point of view,” Hoyt said of individuals who cannot afford legal counsel. “It does allow you to have sympathy, and a judge should never be a cold figure sitting behind a robe that does not regard people as individuals and take into consideration perhaps where they may have come from. Obviously the law is blind. Justice is blind but a judge still has a role to be fair.”

After graduating from Daphne High, Hoyt earned a bachelor’s in public administration from Auburn University and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law in 2006.

He will preside over the next court session, which is Tuesday. He replaces Ken Hitson, who was not reappointed by the new council in November but continued to serve as municipal judge.

Hitson was chosen in August 2010 to replace longtime Municipal Judge Thomas Doyle, who was known for his hard-lined approach.

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