SPLC President on Moore Ethics Violations, State Hopes to Keep Execution On Track

May 10, 2016

Death chamber at Holman Correctional Facility

The fate of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The panel filed six counts of judicial ethics violations against Moore and suspended him from office pending an investigation.

The charges stem from an order he issued to all of the state’s probate judges instructing them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The order was issued in January, six months after and in direct defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Richard Cohen is the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He says Moore’s actions undermine the integrity of the state’s highest court.

“The Alabama Supreme Court is the final word on 90% of the disputes that come up in this state. So it’s a very, very important body, and it’s very, very important that the public have confidence and respect for its judgements. Unfortunately, with Roy Moore at the helm, that’s really not possible.”

Moore was previously removed from office in 2003 for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Supreme Court building. He was re-elected in 2012.

Cohen expects the Judicial Inquiry Commission to issue a ruling within 30 days.

The state of Alabama is hoping a federal judge will allow an execution to move forward later this week.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is opposing a bid by 65-year-old Vernon Madison to postpone his execution, currently scheduled for Thursday.

Madison's lawyers claim multiple strokes and dementia have left the prisoner incompetent to face lethal injection for killing Mobile police officer Julius Schulte in 1985.

But prosecutors say an expert determined Madison understands the court process and the reason he's facing the death sentence despite his health conditions. They say there's little chance Madison would win an appeal.

Madison was convicted of shooting officer Schulte in the head as he sat in his police car after responding to a call about a domestic dispute Madison was involved in.

The Tuscaloosa Veterans’ Affairs Hospital is hosting a graduation ceremony for students with developmental disabilities.

Project Search is a school-to-work transitional program where students age 18 to 21 years old with learning challenges develop employable skills through internships.

Damon Stevenson is a spokesman for the Tuscaloosa VA. He says there a number of fields where the students work at the hospital.

“Food service, they include research and development as far as clerical duties, medical records and many, many different areas to learn clerical skills, administrative skills and labor skills.”

Stevenson says the Tuscaloosa VA is just one of many partners taking part in Project Search. This is the second year the hospital has been involved in the program.

The ceremony will take place in the Building 4 auditorium at 6:00 p.m.