This Session is different

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

There is a general sense around the State House that the 2017 Legislative Session is different.

But in what way?

Is there a chance we are witnessing an era of cooperation rather than confrontation? Could this be the time where all the citizens in every district matter whether Republican or Democrat?

While this may be overly optimistic, there does seem to be a few seeds of hope.
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Alabama Legislature Week 3: Take the gun, leave the backpack

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

It’s hard to believe that we’re already through Week 3 in the 2017 Regular Session.

Actually, wait, no it’s not. It’s very believable, since these folks work like four hours per day. They showed up at 1 on Tuesday and bounced by early afternoon on Thursday. And somewhere in the middle they found time to criticize other people for taking state money and not doing enough work.
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Alabama judicial override safe from Supreme Court review

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

MONTGOMERY—The US Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to Alabama’s system of judicial override for the death penalty from several death-row inmates in the State.

In a list of orders on pending cases released Monday, the Court denied certiorari in the case of Thomas Arthur v. Alabama. Arthur and two other death-row inmates petitioned the high court in November to review Alabama’s death row laws.

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Judicial reform: Why the JIC and COJ must go in 2017

By Maggie Ford

On January 6, 2016, Chief Justice Roy Moore issued a factual and legal Administrative Order. Since then, we have seen the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) file charges against him because of it.

They also shared confidential information with The Montgomery Advertiser and The New York Times, and displayed a conflict of interest by using $75,000 of taxpayer money to hire the formal legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center – the organization that filed the original complaints – as their prosecuting attorney (despite the one they already had). Read More

Brewbaker bill will end judicial override in capital murder cases

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

In Alabama, even when a jury recommends someone only receive life in prison, a trial judge in a capital murder case can ignore that recommendation and impose the death penalty. Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) wants to change this practice, known as “judicial override.”

“The US Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that they do not like it and think this is a bad practice,” said Brewbaker in a phone interview with The Alabama Political Reporter. “Now that Delaware and Florida have gotten rid of it, Alabama is the only state that still practices it.”
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Insiders say Bentley has chosen Sessions’ replacement

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

During a Cabinet meeting last week, Gov. Robert Bentley said that well over one hundred individuals were seeking the US Senate seat, soon to be vacated by Sen. Jeff Sessions. Several present at the meeting believed Bentley slyly tipped his hand as to which individual currently holds the inside track for the appointment. Insiders say the die was cast weeks ago, and the interviews that began last week are a perfunctory charade.
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The shadowy autocracy of the JIC, the State Supreme Court and the legal elites

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

Two State Senators are offering constitutional amendments that would rein in the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) and the Court of the Judiciary (COJ).

The JIC was created to investigate, receive, initiate complaints leveled against sitting judges, and the COJ was formed to hear cases that the JIC felt needed to be adjudicated. In simple terms, the JIC acts as a prosecutor and grand jury, while the COJ is judge and jury.
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Two Senate bills introduced to rein in JIC, COJ

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The prosecution and permanent suspension of Chief Justice Roy Moore has caused several lawmakers to question the legitimacy, even the need for the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) and the Court of the Judiciary (COJ).

The COJ ruling in Judge Moore’s case is under appeal before a specially appointed Supreme Court. However, acting chief justice Lyn Stuart has barred Moore from his office, fired his staff and, reportedly, scheduled a new official Supreme Court photograph.
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Bentley turns to Survey Monkey for Sessions replacement

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The appointment to replace Senator Jeff Sessions rests squarely on the shoulders of Governor Robert Bentley.

In a recent email obtained by the Alabama Political Reporter, Bentley’s Appointments Director, Will Edwards, asks the members of the State’s Republican Party Executive Committee for input on the appointment of Sessions’ successor:

“Dear Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee Members, Governor Bentley has asked that I contact you regarding Senator Sessions’ vacant seat in the US Senate, pending his confirmation,” reads the Nov. 18 communique. Edwards continues by saying Bentley wants a “qualified pool of conservative candidates,” and would “value your personal input as a Party member.”
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Ethics Commission Continues To Issue Opinions Contrary To Law

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

It is almost laughable and tragically so to use the word “ethics” when referring to the commission charged with overseeing the State’s ethics laws. In a recent opinion concerning Rep. Randy Davis (R-Daphne), the ethics commission approved Davis’ request to take a job from a principal with business before the State. This is not the first time this so-called “ethics” commission has issued an opinion that would allow lawmakers to receive “a thing of value” from a principal. The last time it was forced to reverse itself under pressure from the State’s Attorney General and District Attorneys.
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