By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, October 24, 2016) Sanctity of Marriage Alabama filed an ethics complaint with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) against acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart (R) for allegedly violating multiple Canons of Judicial Ethics in her mishandling of the cases surrounding Chief Justice Roy Moore (R).
Sanctity of Marriage Alabama Spokesman Tom Ford said in a statement, “If the Judicial Inquiry Commission really cares about ethics, fairness, and upholding the integrity and impartiality of the Alabama Judiciary, they will no doubt take our complaint seriously, as will organizations which filed ethics complaints on Chief Justice Moore.”
Chief Justice Roy Moore is appealing his suspension by the Court of the Judiciary (COJ) to the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore is asking that Stuart, who assumed his duties upon his suspension, recuse herself from the case.
Ford said, “Justice Stuart played a part in a sealed case regarding Chief Justice Moore, has repeatedly, prematurely, and boldly inserted her judgment for that of courts over which she should have no sway, and even now, refuses to disqualify herself from the process of Chief Justice Moore’s appeal.”
The complaint alleges that acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart has failed to avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety, failed to perform the duties of her office impartially, failed to avoid conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and failed to conduct herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
Ford said, “The sealed case was Moore v. Judicial Inquiry Commission, which means that the JIC is already aware of the ethical violations of Justice Lyn Stuart. We sincerely hope that they have not become so politically motivated as to cover such flagrant violations of the Canons that they are supposed to uphold.”
The Complaint reads: “If Justice Lyn Stuart were to don her innocent mask and recuse from the more publicized aspects of Chief Justice Roy Moore’s appeal (e.g. sitting on the special court), the validity of our complaint would be written in stone: her recusal or non-recusal is based on politics, public clamor, or appearances see Canon 3A(1) as she has already failed to recuse in the sealed case, has already made her judgment on the appeal known, and has failed to disqualify herself from the process thus far.”
On Monday, after this complaint was filed, Stuart and the other three justices Moore asked to recuse did recuse themselves but is assisting Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) in selecting from a pool of retired judges to hear the case. Moore is objecting to he having any involvement in selecting the judges. Matt Staver (who represents Moore) said, “Chief Justice Moore is merely asking for the same thing any citizen is entitled to receive – equal justice under the law. He wants his case to be heard by an objective and fair panel of judges who will adhere to the rule of law,”
Although Moore remains the Chief Justice, his powers have been assumed by acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart. She re3cently sent Moore a letter telling him to clean out his office and remove his belongings. Moore’s name has been removed from the official Supreme Court letterhead. Stuart also fired Moore’s three staff attorneys and barred him from retrieving a file from his office. Moore’s defense is arguing that Moore’s suspension amounts to a removal, which would have required a unanimous vote of the COJ, which they did not have. Instead the majority of the COJ voted to suspend the Chief Justice without pay. The ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ on Wednesday filed a motion with the court asking that the case against Moore be unsealed.
If the JIC actually charges Stuart, she would be automatically suspended with pay until the Court of the Judiciary could rule on the case. On Friday, the JIC dismissed a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) charge against Associate Justice Tom Parker (R). If Stuart is suspended then the Court will have to operate with just seven justices. Moore was not replaced because the COJ did not actually remove the Chief Justice. Parker is suing to overturn the automatic suspension provision.
Sanctity of Marriage Alabama has been highly supportive of Roy Moore.