Alabama Court of the Judiciary member recuses self from Chief Justice Roy Moore case

Roy Moore
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. [Photo Credit: AP Photo|Brynn Anderson]

An attorney and member of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary has recused himself from hearing an ethics case involving Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Citing his role in Moore’s prior removal in Nov. 2003, John V. Denson II, filed a notice of recusal with the Court of the Judiciary on Wednesday in order to promote public confidence in the court and avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Moore was first removed from the bench by the Court of the Judiciary after he ignored a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court building. Denson was part of the the unanimous decision that removed him.

In May, the Judicial Inquiry Commission — a state commission responsible for enforcing judicial ethics — filed a complaint with six charges against Moore for his ordering probate judges to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the fact the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Under Alabama law, Moore was automatically suspended from office while the charges are pending.

“While the facts in the previous case and the present case involving Chief Justice Moore are different and the cases are distinguishable, it did not appear when the complaint was filed that there would be any conflict with the undersigned serving as a judge in this case,” Denson wrote in his recusal.

Following Denson’s recusal, presiding Judge Michael Joiner appointed court alternate W.N. Watson, a Fort Payne attorney with a long history of activity in the Alabama State Bar, to serve in Denson’s place.

A hearing for Moore’s federal lawsuit is set for Aug. 4.

The Court of Judiciary will hear oral arguments in the case Aug. 8.