Legal Ethics

Retired judges to hear appeal from suspended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

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Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The fate of suspended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is now in the hands of several retired judges.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Moore’s former brethren on the Alabama Supreme Court have recused themselves from ruling on whether the controversial chief justice’s suspension should be lifted. In a 5-3 ruling, the justices chose to defer to a panel of judges to be picked at random from a pool of retired circuit, district and appellate judges.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore last month, without pay, after he urged state court judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage.

“Because the justices have personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances underlying this appeal, this appeal presents a situation in which all the justices’ impartiality might be questioned,” the majority wrote in its decision.

Associate Justice Tom Parker, who is an ally of Moore’s, dissented from the decision, saying that as elected judges, they were all accountable to the public and should rule on the matter.

Moore’s suspension came after the controversial and outspoken chief justice told state court and probate judges that a prior ban on same-sex marriage remained in effect despite Obergefell. Moore has claimed that he was merely giving state court judges a “status update” and was not ordering them to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

When asked about the Alabama Supreme Court’s recusal, Moore’s lawyer, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, said: “He wants his case to be heard by an objective and fair panel of judges who will adhere to the rule of law.”

According to the AP, a panel of seven judges will be drawn from a pool of approximately 50. Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart and Gov. Robert Bentley will oversee the process.

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