3 local judges support Moore

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 22, 2016

Three of the eight Alabama judges who filed a legal brief in support of suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore are from Covington County.

Retired Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan, retired Circuit Judge Jerry Stokes and retired District Judge Frank L. (Trippy) McGuire III, all of Covington County joined Circuit Judge John Bentley, Circuit Judge T. Lee Carter and District Judge Mark Hammitte of the 25th Circuit (Marion and Winston counties); Circuit Judge Tim Riley of Marshall County and retired Circuit Judge Rusty Johnston of Mobile County in supporting Moore.

The judges contend that the Court of the Judiciary circumvented a rule requiring a unanimous vote to remove a judge from office by instead suspending Moore for the rest of his term, al.com reported.

In September, the Court of the Judiciary found Moore guilty of violating six Canons of Judicial Conducts over his order to probate judges telling them they had a “ministerial duty” to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2019. Alabama does not permit judges to stand for election after age 70, so his suspension means he cannot return to the court.

The court wrote in its opinion that “the undeniable consequence of the January 6, 2016 order was to order and direct the probate judges to deny marriage licenses in direct defiance of the United State Supreme Court.”

The Court of the Judiciary found that Moore failed to act impartially; promote confidence in the law and uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.

All seated members of the Alabama Supreme Court recused from Moore’s appeal, which led to the appointment of a special Supreme Court chosen from a pool of retired judges. Ironically, McGuire was one of the judges chosen for that duty, but declined to serve.

In their brief, the eight judges argued that Moore’s punishment “is tantamount to the removal from office requiring the concurrence of all members of the Court of the Judiciary.”