MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The presiding municipal court judge for the City of Montgomery is stepping down from the bench next month.

Judge Les Hayes' retirement is effective July 2. He has served on the municipal court for 20 years after being appointed by former Mayor Bobby Bright in 2000, news outlets report.

The judge’s time on the bench, however, has not been without controversy.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Hayes for 11 months in November 2016 and he was later ordered to end an agreement where he was being paid by the city during his suspension. The court found Hayes was jailing those who could not afford to pay fines, had grossly deficient record keeping practices, and employed a company to oversee debt collection.

Despite the controversy, the City Council reappointed him to the bench in 2018.

“We wish Judge Hayes well in future endeavors and appreciate his 20 years of service to the citizens of Montgomery,” Mayor Steven Reed said in a news release. “In coming weeks, we will work with legal community as well as grassroots and civic leaders to develop a field of uniquely qualified candidates committed to justice in our community.”.

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