Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Alabama Has a Recusal Law?/MUG reinvented

Alabama has a recusal law for judges? Who knew? Apparently our great state has had such a law since 1995. The law states that a judge must recuse himself from a case when either a party or a party's attorney in the case has contributed two thousand dollars or more to his election campaign.

Why are most Alabamians not aware of this 16 year-old law? One, it's not now being enforced, nor has it ever been. Two, even in 2011, 2K is a fairly sizable campaign contribution--one that even the most well-heeled attorneys might refrain from. Three, it doesn't address a party in the suit having contributed to a judge's opponent.

The next question that each of us should be asking is why the law has never been enforced. From the Birmingham News:

Alabama's recusal law has never been enforced. The Alabama Supreme Court says it can't write the rules to implement the law until the U.S. Justice Department signs off that it doesn't disenfranchise minority voters; but the Alabama Attorney General's Office says no such federal approval is necessary and has refused to submit it to Washington.

Now the American Bar Association is pushing each state to adopt an enforceable recusal law. It would certainly be in the interest of Republican Chief Justice Charles R. Malone to pursue this now, before a Democrat, oh, say, Charlie Graddick makes a campaign issue of it--Graddick being so well-known for his honesty and all.

Related post: Judge Mike Jones & the Two Teachers


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