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Press Release

    Judicial Inquiry Commission Information

    10/26/2001

    What is JIC?
    The JIC is the Judicial Inquiry Committee, which functions as a judicial disciplinary system for the State. It was created in December 1973 as part of Amendment 328 to the Constitution of Alabama, and the Alabama Supreme Court consented, through a vote, to its original rules. However, at that time Alabama was a one-party state and JIC disciplinary action was used to police serious judicial misconduct, not to pursue political vendettas.

    Who sits on JIC?
    The JIC's nine members are appointed. The Alabama Supreme Court appoints one member, which shall be an appellate justice or judge not from the Supreme Court; the Circuit Judge's Association appoints two circuit judges; the Governor appoints three non-lawyers, the governing body of the Alabama State Bar appoints two of its members; and the Lt. Governor appoints a district judge. The members of JIC serve staggered four-year terms and select their own Chairman.

    Who financially supports JIC?
    The taxpayers of Alabama, of course! How much has been spent to date? JIC won't say and requests by AL CSE to see financial documents, which should be available to the public according to the Open Records Act, have thus far been ignored.

    Who will be JIC's next victim? We must not allow JIC to continue to go after conservative judges under a veil of secrecy. It is time to stop JIC from expending taxpayer dollars for its narrow political objectives.

    What recent changes did the Supreme Court make involving JIC?
    Recently, the Alabama Supreme Court amended the Rules governing JIC proceedings. One of the rule changes requires a unanimous verdict in disciplinary proceedings, just like civil and criminal trials in Alabama. This change was vital because the legislature expanded the Court of the Judiciary from 5 members to 9. Under the old rules, it only takes three members to convict a judge and, as matters stood prior to the rule change, only 3 of the 9 members of the Court of the Judiciary were needed to convict a judge - just a third of the Court! The Supreme Court's adoption of the unanimous verdict requirement reflects the seriousness of the disciplinary proceedings, which can end a judicial and legal career.

    The other changes adopted with respect to JIC concern the procedural methods it must follow to investigate and receive complaints. Under JIC's old rules, complaints could be made verbally and anonymously, which prevented judges from knowing that they were being charged. Considering the partisan bias so recently exhibited by JIC, as well as the fact that the Judicial Article requires the automatic removal of a judge once JIC files formal charges, this process was in dire need of review.

    Unfortunately, the news articles in many papers around the state concerning the rule changes used unfavorable quotes from previous and current members of JIC, like Judge Randall Cole, a Democrat from DeKalb County, Mark White, who monetarily supported Harold See's opponents in 1994 and 1996 and represented the Trial Lawyer Association in the Garve Ivey case, and Bill Bowen, Mark White's law partner.

    It is clear that these critics have obvious partisan purposes when they suggest something is amiss in the Supreme Court's adoption of these amended Rules. It is the good 'ole boys at JIC that have abused their power and authority and have necessitated the Rule changes when they began to use JIC unethically for political vendettas.

    In fact, there can be little doubt that the rule changes adopted by the Court are a reaction to the gross abuse of power demonstrated by JIC's partisan pursuit of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Harold See. But where was the JIC when Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Ingram's commercials compared Justice See to a skunk? Or when Ingram's trial lawyer-supporters aired outright falsehoods? And JIC continues its political witch-hunt of Justice See even after both federal and state courts have ruled that their prosecution violates Justice See's First Amendment right to free speech.

    Who else does JIC have a political vendetta against?
    Not only has JIC prosecuted Justice See, but also sued the Christian Coalition of Alabama in connection with its candidate questionnaire prior to the 2000 election. Again, JIC lost the suit, but continued its pursuit of the Christian Coalition, and continued to waste our tax dollars for a political vendetta.

    In addition, JIC investigated Chief Justice Roy Moore from 1997 until 2000 for posting the Ten Commandments. In an AP article from October 11, 2001, Moore's spokesman said that during the investigation, Judge Moore had no information about what was going on or what he was accused of doing.