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Press Release

    They’re Back

    02/20/2002

    It’s no secret that trial lawyer influence is everywhere, even among the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), the “watchdog” entity supposedly monitoring Alabama judge’s compliance with the Judicial Canons of Ethics. The disciplinary action taken against Supreme Court Justice Harold See by this “watchdog”, as they say, won’t hunt. Although quick to zealously prosecute Justice See over a 7-second statement in an ad run in his 2000 primary campaign for Chief Justice, JIC never bought charges when Ken Ingram, Justice See’s 1996 opponent, broadcast a 30-second ad comparing See to a stinking skunk.

    The JIC charges against Justice See weren’t brought by his opponent in that primary campaign, Chief Justice Roy Moore. Chief Justice Moore, who has incurred JIC’s wrath himself in a 1999-2000 investigation, states he has filed no complaint with JIC and recently has gone on record in support of Justice See’s 2002 reelection campaign.

    Too, JIC hasn’t been determined by a host of court rulings which have gone against them. First, Federal District Judge Ira Dement ruled much of the JIC complaint against Justice See unconstitutional as a violation of Justice See’s free speech rights. Then the Supreme Court of Alabama, in a 7-1 decision, similarly declared the Canon under which JIC largely bases it’s prosecution unconstitutional. Nevertheless, JIC, which is paying hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to private legal counsel to conduct this judicial witch-hunt, just keeps going on. They now appear prepared to continue their persecution of Justice See, including his temporary removal from the Supreme Court while charges are pending, throughout See’s 2002 reelection campaign.

    What Is JIC And What Is Their Function?

    JIC is a nine member board appointed by various political entities. JIC was originally created to be a disciplinary system for the state’s judicial branch. When it was created in 1973, Alabama was largely a one party state. Today, JIC is being used by trial lawyer operatives to politically damage Justice See and other targeted enemies of the trial lawyers. Instead of being impartial and balanced, as you would hope, some JIC members have trial lawyer ties and obvious conflicts. JIC Commissioner Mark White was a contributor to Justice See’s 1994 and 1996 opponents and has served as counsel to the Alabama Trial Lawyers’ Association in 2 high profile investigations. Not only will White not recuse himself due to his obvious conflict, he is, from all appearances, a JIC ringleader.

    Trial Lawyers Get Legislators Involved

    Not content just to harass Justice See in Court using our tax dollars on expensive private lawyers, JIC is seeking legislative help in their persecution efforts. Under current rules made by Alabama Supreme Court, JIC must convince all 9 of the members of the Court of the Judiciary hearing JIC’s charges against Justice See in order to convict. This is as it should be in as much as every other civil and criminal defendant tried in an Alabama Court is entitled to the protection of a unanimous verdict. A simple car wreck is tried before a 12 member jury whose verdict must be unanimous. A sit to convict a judge, and cause his permanent removal form the judiciary, is hardly entitled to less protection. Yet, that is exactly what JIC proposes. Incredibly, bills are pending in the House and Senate which would require JIC only to achieve only a majority verdict (5 of 9) to convict, and one bill would even permit JIC to make up it’s own rules about the cases it brings!

    What Can We Do?

    Call The Governor Today!
    Please take a few moments now to contact Governor Siegelman’s office (334) 242-7100 today and tell JIC to stop wasting our tax dollars on lawyer fees for political vendettas. Make JIC report on how much taxpayer money has been wasted on these political witch-hunts and which trial lawyer firms have gotten rich off of taxpayer money.

    Call Your Legislator Today
    Please call your legislator today (334)-242-7600 House and Senate (334) 242-7800 and tell them you are tired of back room political vendettas and the waste of your tax dollars. JIC should be held accountable and any disciplinary panel operating in today’s politically charged environment should be equally composed of bipartisan members.