Judge to set trial date next month in Arthur Sumbry trial

The judge in the perjury and forgery case of Arthur L. Sumbry Sr. has scheduled a hearing next month to determine a trial date for the longtime Phenix City councilman.

Sumbry, 71, is accused of notarizing an allegedly forged warranty deed and lying about it under oath during a civil case. He’s pleaded not guilty to the felony charges and announced last year he’ll seek re-election despite the indictment.

Sumbry and his co-defendant, Ella Mae Sanders, 55, were charged last year with forging a warranty deed that transferred to Sanders’ son the home of an ailing 94-year-old man. The man’s daughter objected to the transfer, claiming her father wasn’t competent to execute legal documents in his frail health.

A judge later declared the document null and void, saying the signature appeared to be forged.

Sanders went to trial last year and was convicted of perjury, while jurors failed to reach a verdict on the forgery charge. She was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and sentenced to four years in prison, though she may be eligible for probation if her conviction is affirmed on appeal.

Judge Jacob A. Walker III of Lee County Circuit Court will be in town April 3 to set a trial date for Sumbry, and to hold a restitution hearing in Sanders’ case.

Walker, who got the case because all Russell County judges recused themselves, said in court filings that the “most possible dates” for trial appeared to be the weeks of May 14 and Aug. 6.

But Sumbry’s defense attorneys have cited scheduling conflicts on both dates; one is scheduled to be in trial on two other cases May 14, while the other plans to be in Vancouver, Canada, on a camping trip with his son the first week of August.

The municipal election is Aug. 28. Sumbry would be forced to vacate his seat if convicted.