Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission
The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission is a constitutionally mandated state judicial disciplinary agency in Alabama. The Commission meets permanently, and has the authority to receive or initiate complaints and conduct investigations concerning misconduct or incapacitation of any state judge. Cases investigated by the Commission may eventually end up before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.
Composition of the commission
The commission consists of nine members: four judges, two lawyers, and three members of the public. All members have four year terms.
- The judicial members include one appellate judge from a court other than the Supreme Court, who is selected by the Supreme Court; two Circuit Court judges, who are selected by the Alabama Circuit Judges Association; and one district judge who is selected by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate before serving
- The lawyers, who must be members of the Alabama State Bar, are selected by the state bar's governing body.
- The members of the public are selected by the Governor, and are subject to confirmation by the Senate before serving.
Case flow description
- Complaints of judicial misconduct are filed with Judicial Inquiry Commission by members of the public or commission members and verified.
- Within 70 days, the commission decides whether an investigation is warranted based upon initial evidence.
- With limited exceptions, within 14 days of a decision to investigate, the judge who is subject to a complaint receives all relevant documentation regarding the complaint. The judge then receives regular updates on the investigation every six weeks.
- If the commission decides that the case should go before the Court of the Judiciary, the charges are filled by the Attorney General.
- The case proceeds according to the Court of the Judiciary Rules of Procedure.
Rules of Procedure
The Judicial Inquiry Commission has 20 Rules of Procedure:
- Rule 1. Definitions.
- Rule 2. Disqualification.
- Rule 3. Style of Proceedings and Process.
- Rule 4. Privilege.
- Rule 5. Confidentiality of Proceedings.
- Rule 6. Investigations.
- Rule 7. Subpoenas and Other Process.
- Rule 8. Contempt.
- Rule 9. Meetings.
- Rule 10. Alternate Dispute Resolution.
- Rule 11. Officers of the Commission.
- Rule 12. Executive Committee.
- Rule 13. Seal.
- Rule 14. Judge Acting as Such While Disqualified.
- Rule 15. Prosecution of Charges Before Court of the Judiciary.
- Rule 16. Deferral of Impairment Cases.
- Rule 17. Informal Communications With Judge.
- Rule 18. Advisory Opinions.
- Rule 19. Right to Relief from Violations of These Rules by Commission.
- Rule 20. Publication.
Advisory opinions dating back to 1976 are available in a searchable format on the commission's website.
|2011||The commission received 194 complaints against Alabama judges. 52 complaints were investigated. 169 complaints were discarded before or after investigation due to a lack of basis, jurisdiction, or ethical violations. 52 complaints were investigated. The commission met with three judges regarding complaints. Two complaints were filed with the Court of the Commissions.|
The Judiciary Inquiry Commission was officially established in December of 1973.
|1901||The Alabama Constitution of 1901 (section 173 and 174) stated that Supreme Court justices could be removed by the state legislature through impeachment. Other judges could be removed by the Supreme Court.|
|1972||Amendment 317 to the Alabama Constitution established the Alabama Judicial Commission.|
|1973||Amendment 328 to the Alabama Constitution established the Judicial Inquiry Commission and the Court of the Judiciary as part of a complete revision of the judicial section of the Constitution.|
|1975||The Alabama Supreme Court creates the Rules of Procedure for the Judicial Inquiry Commission.|
|1996||Amendment 580 to the Alabama Constitution provided that Supreme Court and Appellate Court judges could be impeached by the legislature, but that it is completely secondary to the actions and determinations of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and the Court of the Judiciary.|
|1996||Amendment 581 to the Alabama Constitution increased the number of members on the Commission from seven to nine, and made changes to the selection process.|
|2001||Without prior notification State Supreme Court amended procedural rules. One major change regarded rules of confidentiality, requiring that complaints had to be verified and complainant names were given to judges. This let to a significantly reducing the number of complaints filed.|
|2002||The Alabama Supreme Court creates the Standing Advisory Committee for Rules of Procedure for the Court of the Judiciary and the Judicial Inquiry Commission to help make future rule change recommendations.|
|Fiscal Year||Expenditures||Percent Change|
Canons of Judicial Ethics
Below is the summary of the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics. Full documentation is available at the Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library website.
|Canon 1. A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.|
|Canon 2. A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities.|
|Canon 3. A judge should perform the duties of his office impartially and diligently.|
|Canon 4. A judge may engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice.|
|Canon 5. A judge should regulate his extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with his judicial duties.|
|Canon 6. A judge should regularly file reports of his financial interests.|
|Canon 7. A judge or a judicial candidate shall refrain from political activity inappropriate to judicial office.|
Judicial Inquiry Commission
401 Adams Avenue
P.O. Box 303400
Montgomery, AL 36130-3400
Phone (334) 242-4089
Fax (334) 353-4043
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Constitution Of Alabama OF 1901 (Recompiled): Article VI
- ↑ Alabama Judicial System, "Court of the Judiciary Overview"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Rules of Procedure of Judicial Inquiry Commission, "Rule 6. Investigations."
- ↑ Rules of Procedure of Judicial Inquiry Commission, "Rule 15. Prosecution of Charges Before Court of the Judiciary. "
- ↑ Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library, "Rules of Procedure of Judicial Inquiry Commission"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Alabama Unified Judicial System, "Fiscal Year 2011 Annual Report and Statistics"
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Judicial Inquiry Commission, "2005 Annual Report"
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Alabama Unified Judicial System, "Alabama Report on the Judicial Discipline System," March, 2009
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Alabama Unified Judicial System, "FY 2009 Annual Report"
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Alabama Unified Judicial System, "FY 2007 Annual Report & Statistics"
- ↑ Alabama Unified Judicial System, "FY 2005 Annual Report & Statistics"
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Alabama Unified Judicial System, "2004 Annual Report & Statistics"
- ↑ Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library, "Canons of Judicial Ethics"