Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ethics Question No. 1: Roger Bedford

This question was sent from a reader:

I understand Roger Bedford has occupied a position as State Senator for years and years while also, simultaneously, holding court in Russellville as the Municipal Court Judge. This seems to be an inherent ethical conflict as he occupies positions within both the legislative and judicial branches of government. Would it be ethical for a Supreme Court Justice to also be a Colbert County Commissioner or for Governor Bentley to also be the Montgomery City Judge?

We're going to attempt to find correct answers to all ethics questions submitted to us; however, we're going to give our opinion of this case--it may be right or it may not. Bedford's salary as a state legislator is paid for with state funds. His salary as a municipal judge comes from City of Russellville funds. Further, since Bedford's district included Russellville, that also eliminated a conflict that could have occurred in the state senate if Bedford had been city judge for Waterloo or some other town outside his district. In other words, if Waterloo and Littleville were both finalists for a state grant, which one would he have chosen?

However, continuing in this line, what if Bedford had represented Mr. Doe in a large civil case, and then Mr. Doe came before him in municipal court? Small town justice can get sticky.


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