BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The incoming district attorney for Jefferson County was arrested Friday on felony perjury charges, meaning he automatically will be suspended from the post he is scheduled to assume next week.
Charles Henderson is accused of giving false testimony in a divorce case in which he served as guardian ad litem for the divorcing couple’s minor child. Guardians ad litem are court-appointed lawyers who are supposed to represent the best interests of the minor child.
The Alabama attorney general’s office announced the charge Friday and said Henderson is accused of giving knowingly false testimony in a September proceeding in the case. The attorney general’s office said the investigation arose out of information from the Alabama Bar Association.
A defense lawyer said Henderson is innocent and is eager to get to court.
“The charges in this case are false. Mr. Henderson cannot wait to get into court and start fighting this injustice,” Jim Parkman, an attorney representing Henderson, said Friday.
Court records show that Henderson was appointed as guardian ad litem for the divorcing couple’s daughter. However, the husband asked for him to be removed, saying his wife appeared on his campaign website. The wife’s attorney in a September motion to withdraw from the case because of a conflict of interest, said during the Sept. 26 trial the husband said he intended to show there was a romantic relationship between the wife and the guardian ad litem.
Henderson is scheduled to take office Tuesday. However, state law requires district attorneys accused of crimes to be suspended automatically. The presiding judge of the circuit will appoint an acting district attorney after Henderson is sworn in on Jan. 17.
“The attorney general’s office in Montgomery seized the democratic process with this indictment,” Parkman said.
Henderson, a Democrat, unseated Republican incumbent Brandon Falls in the November election.
If convicted, Henderson faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $15,000.
This story has been corrected to show that Henderson was removed as guardian ad litem before the September proceeding.