Alabama: latest in efforts to curtail/remove power of Court of the Judiciary to handle judicial disciplinary matters

Last fall Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended from office by the state’s judicial disciplinary commission (Court of the Judiciary) on a complaint from the state judicial investigatory arm (the Judicial Inquiry Commission). Members of the legislature called it an outrageous abuse of process” and the executive committee of the Alabama GOP agreed to a plan to have all 9 members of the Judicial Inquiry Commission elected. 

The latest effort in this arena was filed earlier this week as HB 166. Under it the existing disciplinary process would remain the same for trial judges:

  1. The Judicial Inquiry Commission would investigate and file a complaint against a judge with the Court of the Judiciary and then
  2. Prosecute the complaint before the Court of the Judiciary.

For appellate courts (Supreme, Court of Civil Appeals, Court of Criminal Appeals) the role of the Court of the Judiciary is entirely eliminated.

  1. The Judicial Inquiry Commission would file any complaint with the House Judiciary Committee
  2. The committee would then decide whether to a) keep the complaint for a possible impeachment proceeding or b) return it back to be taken up as a disciplinary matter.
  3. If the committee decided to refer it back the Court of the Judiciary would not hear the case. Instead a complaint against a member of the Supreme Court or Court of Civil Appeals would be heard by the Court of Criminal Appeals, while a complaint against a member of the Court of Criminal Appeals would be heard by the Court of Civil Appeals.

HB 116 has been filed in the House Judiciary Committee.

 

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