Retired judge declines serving on special state Supreme Court

Published 2:37 am Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Covington County’s retired District Judge Frank L. (Trippy) McGuire said Monday he has declined the opportunity to serve on a special Supreme Court to hear ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore’s appeal of his ethics conviction.

Trippy-McGuire---PictureLast week, 50 names of retired judges were drawn as a potential pool to serve as a special appellate court after all seated members of the Alabama Supreme Court recused from Moore’s appeal.

Judges were approached in the order drawn, and McGuire’s was among the first seven drawn.

McGuire said it had crossed his mind that his name could be drawn, but he was a little shocked when they called.

“Ironically, I had already been contemplating my possible selection, deliberating over whether I could be completely impartial in the case,” McGuire said.

He provided the following statement:

“The Judicial Canons of Ethics govern a judge’s conduct. Canon 3 deals with a judge performing his duties impartially and Canon 3C requires a judge to disqualify himself in a case in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

“To give a bit of history, Chief Justice Moore and myself were first elected to the bench in 1992 and were classmates at the Alabama Judicial College’s New Judges’ Orientation in January,1993. In the years since, we visited on a regular basis at our state judicial meetings, held twice yearly.

“While serving as president of the Alabama District Judges’ Association in 2003-2004, I had occasion to work with him while he was Chief Justice, particularly with regard to funding for the judiciary branch of government. I recall travelling to Montgomery at his request, where he and I, along with several others, addressed  a legislative committee on the need for essential funding for the state court system.

“On numerous occasions, particularly in the latter years of my serving as a judge, I had occasion to call on his office for assistance in matters which affected the efficiency of the court system in Covington County. His office always responded graciously and quickly to my requests, something  for which I am still grateful for today. The Chief’s empathy and concern, also reflected by his staff, endeared me to them all. It was a most cordial relationship. To this day, that longstanding personal and professional relationship is something I look upon fondly.

“For the foregoing reasons, I did not feel I could be completely impartial in the case and that Canon 3C would require that I not serve. “Accordingly, I respectfully declined. Fifty judges were being selected to possibly serve, so I knew there would be other judges who could serve who did not have the personal connection I had.”

Also on Monday, Gov. Robert Bentley signed an executive order appointing the following judges: H. Edward McFerrin, Robert G. Cahill, William R. King, James H. Reid, Jr., Lynn Clardy bright, Ralph A. Fersons, Jr., and John D. Coggin.

No date has been set for the appellate proceedings.