By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The Special Alabama Supreme Court appointed to hear the appeal of Chief Justice Roy Moore suspension on December 7, sent an order to the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) giving them fourteen days to show cause as to why the Motion to Intervene and Unseal filed by The Alabama Political Reporter should not be granted.
The JIC on Monday, December 19, answered the court, claiming it had a constitutional mandate to keep all records confidential. So insistent on this position under the State’s 1901 Constitution, they cited the provision no less than five times.
In a seventeen page response from John L. Carroll, Rosa Davis and R. Ashby Pate, the JIC asserts: “The presumption of open court proceedings and the Chief Justice’s own consent to lifting the seal are insufficient to overcome the Alabama Constitution’s strict confidentiality mandate that [a]ll proceedings of the [JIC] shall be confidential, except the filing of a complaint with the [COJ].”
With those few words, these lawyers confirmed that they, in fact, consider the JIC a “Star Chamber” beholden to no one. The term today, as in the days of the British Royal Empire, is synonymous with misuse and abuse of power by authoritarian governments.
The JIC has a secret hiding in those court records, something that will embarrass both the members of the commission as well possibly some on the Alabama Supreme Court.
The sealing of the records was not s JIC proceeding as they assert, but a Supreme Court matter, under whose order the case was sealed.
Is the JIC hiding information about leaks to The New York Times that was cited in Justice Moore’s original filings? Was there collusion between members of the JIC and the Supreme Court?
In answering the Special Supreme Court the JIC states, “The Alabama Supreme Court’s decision to leave the seal in place was not an abuse of discretion…and also claims ” the JIC has never (their emphasis) taken a position on this issue.”
What Jennifer Garrett, executive director of the JIC, as well as its members hope, is that the seven members of the Special Supreme Court will be naive about the law or simply roll over and play dead like the justices who recused themselves in the matter.
Hopefully, the dishonesty of denying Judge Moore’s request for a fair, transparent and public airing of the actions taken to suspend him for the rest of his term in office, will not be lost on the Special Supreme Court.
The JIC’s reckless and rogue behavior has not been lost on Senators Dick Brewbaker and Bill Hightower, who want to see changes in the JIC; even abolishing it altogether.
This latest excuse for keeping the truth from the public is yet another example of what is wrong with the JIC.
The legislature should move swiftly to rein in this outlaw commission, which thumbs it nose at justice while hiding behind her skirts. It is APR’s intention to expose what they are hiding no matter how long it takes.
Editors note: Obviously, the JIC commissioners are unfamiliar with the work of APR. We never quit, never give in and never stop working.
More Editors note: For nearly a year, the JIC’s webpage just supplied an address and phone number. Recently, the site as been populated with the names of the commissioner and some of the rules under which it operates.