Panel of retired judges to hear suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore’s appeal

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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore testifies during his ethics in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday Sept. 28, 2016. [Photo Credit: AP, Pool | Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser]

Alabama Supreme Court justices have recused themselves from hearing their colleague’s — suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore‘s — appeal, opting for a panel of retired judges to be randomly selected to hear the appeal instead.

The justices recused themselves on Monday, by a 5-3 vote, from hearing Moore’s appeal, citing their impartiality might come into question.

“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.

It was then decided the names of 50 judges would be drawn randomly from a pool of retired appellate, circuit, and district judges by Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart and Gov. Robert Bentley. The first seven pulled, who are both qualified and willing, will serve as a special Supreme Court to hear Moore’s appeal.

Earlier this month, Moore had filed a request seeking the recusal of his colleagues.

Liberty Counsel Founder Mat Staver released this statement following Monday’s decision:

Chief Justice Moore is merely asking for the same thing any citizen is entitled to receive — equal justice under the law. He wants his case to be heard by an objective and fair panel of judges who will adhere to the rule of law. The people of Alabama have increasingly called upon their judges to be accountable.

At every turn, this case presents new twists and turns that have never occurred in the history of Alabama. Never has there been a requirement that replacement judges all be retired. We hope this case moves quickly to a final and just resolution.

The Court of the Judiciary violated the law when it suspended Chief Justice Moore for life even though it lacked the 9-0 vote. Never before under the unanimity requirement of COJ Rule 16 has any judge ever been suspended for the rest of the term. A sexting judge gets six months and a judge who writes a four-page order that is not unethical or unlawful gets suspended for life.

This is not right.

In September, Moore was suspended from the bench for the remainder of his term for encouraging probate judges to defy federal order and refuse marriage licenses to gay couples back in January.

The nine-member Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) unanimously found Moore guilty on six charges relating to violations of the canon of judicial ethics, and issued his suspension from the bench.

Moore is in the process of appealing the COJ’s decision.

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