Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

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Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
Court information
Judges:   5
Judicial selection
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Active judges

Samuel Henry Welch  •  Mary Windom  •  J. Elizabeth Kellum  •  J. Michael Joiner  •  Liles Burke  •  

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The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals is one of two intermediate appellate court in the Alabama judicial system. The court was established in 1969 when what had been one unitary state Court of Appeals was broken into a criminal appeals court and a civil appeals court. The unified Court of Appeals had been operative since 1911.

The court is composed of five judges, one of whom is elected by the members of the court to serve as presiding judge. The Court of Criminal Appeals hears all appeals of felony and misdemeanor cases, including violations of city ordinances and all post-conviction writs in criminal cases.


The Court of Criminal Appeals hears appeals on cases that have been decided at the Circuit Court level (of which there are 40 in the state). The five judges that sit on the Court of Criminal Appeals hears all criminal appeals including felony cases, convictions involving misdemeanors, and violations of multiple ordinances.[1]

The court's judges

Election of judges

Main article: Judicial selection in Alabama

Judges are elected to the court in partisan elections for six-year terms on the court.

Current judges

JudgeTermAppointed byParty
Judge Samuel Henry Welch2007-2018Republican
Judge Mary Windom2009-2014Republican
Judge J. Elizabeth Kellum2009-2014Republican
Judge J. Michael Joiner2011-2018Gov. Robert BentleyRepublican
Judge Liles Burke2011-2018Robert BentleyRepublican


Former Court of Criminal Appeals judges


To serve on the court, a person must:

  • Be licensed to practice law in the state of Alabama
  • Have resided in the state for a minimum of one year
  • Be no more than 70 years of age.[3]

Notable cases

Appeals court tosses murder conviction of man who threw children off bridge

February 15, 2013
The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the 2009 death sentence for Lam Luong, who was convicted of killing four small children and throwing them off a bridge. The court remanded the case for a new trial after determining that the surrounding publicity made a fair trial in Mobile, where the crime took place, impossible.

Three of the children were Luong's own: Hannah, age 2; Lindsey, age 1; and Danny, who was 4 months. Three-year-old Ryan, Luong's step son, was also killed. The bodies were found along coasts in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Autopsies indicated that the children were alive when thrown off of the 80-foot Dauphin Island bridge into the Mississippi Sound. According to his wife, Luong was addicted to crack cocaine.

The appeals court ruled that Luong received an improper trial since all 12 jurors had prior knowledge of the case. The court stated,

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

It is clear that publicity surrounding the murders completely saturated the Mobile community in 2008...Luong was denied his constitutional right to an impartial jury."[4]

The court explained that Luong's attorneys should have been allowed to question the jurors about their knowledge of the case prior to the trial. Additionally, the court ruled that the trial judge should have allowed a video to be presented to the jury in which a police officer simulated the crime by dropping four sandbags off of the bridge. The trial judge also erred, the court stated, in refusing $7,500 to the defense team to travel to Vietnam, from which Luong had immigrated, to investigate his childhood.[4][5]

See also

External links


Alabama Supreme CourtAlabama Court of Civil AppealsAlabama Court of Criminal AppealsAlabama Circuit CourtsAlabama Municipal CourtsAlabama Probate CourtsAlabamaAlabama countiesAlabama judicial newsAlabama judicial electionsJudicial selection in AlabamaUnited States District Court for the Northern District of AlabamaUnited States District Court for the Middle District of AlabamaUnited States District Court for the Southern District of AlabamaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh CircuitAlabamaTemplate.jpg


CandidateIncumbencyPartyPlacePrimary VoteElection Vote
JoinerJ. Michael Joiner   ApprovedAYesRepublicanPlace 398.24%   ApprovedA
BurkeLiles Burke   ApprovedAYesRepublicanPlace 298.23%   ApprovedA
WelchSamuel Henry Welch   ApprovedAYesRepublicanPlace 198.22%   ApprovedA