U.S. Supreme Court

An Alabama inmate is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his upcoming execution to consider whether a judge should have been able to give him a death sentence when the jury recommended life imprisonment.

Attorneys for Ronald Bert Smith filed the stay request today. Smith is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection next Thursday for the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson.

A jury recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote, but a judge sentenced Smith to the death penalty.

SPLC

Alabama’s prison system has been in the news a lot this year, and not for good reasons. Violence, inmate riots, allegations of mismanagement and corruption and a failed prison building plan in the state legislature have all pointed out plenty of problems.

The Alabama Public Radio news team has spent the past several months examining what happens as people go into the state’s prison system and what happens when they come out.

An Alabama inmate set to be executed next week is asking the governor to intervene because a judge imposed his death sentence over a jury's recommendation of life imprisonment.

Attorneys for Ronald Bert Smith wrote in a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley that the judge overrode the jury's will. The jury voted 7-5 in his case for life in prison.

Smith is currently scheduled to be executed Dec. 8 for the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson.

Supreme Court
Equal Justice Initiative

Alabama death row inmate Tommy Arthur is still alive this morning, thanks to a last-minute stay of execution from the United States Supreme Court.

Arthur was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection yesterday evening. The court initially ordered his execution delayed while they reviewed his case. Then late last night, the Supreme Court stopped Arthur’s execution altogether as the justices consider whether to take up his appeals. Justices say Arthur’s execution stay will expire if they decide not to hear his case.

The state of Alabama is preparing to execute a death row inmate who was convicted in the 1982 killing of a man in a murder-for-hire arrangement.

Tommy Arthur is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. this evening.

Arthur, now 74, was convicted of murdering Troy Wicker in 1982 as the man slept inside his Muscle Shoals home. Investigators said Arthur was having an affair with Wicker's wife. She later testified that she promised him $10,000 to kill her husband.

Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of an Alabama death row inmate he says could be "very likely actually innocent."

Meese filed a brief on behalf of inmate Bill Kuenzel with the U.S. Supreme Court which will decide whether to hear Kuenzel's case.

Kuenzel was convicted of killing store clerk Linda Jean Offord in 1987.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is set to appear in court tomorrow morning. He’s facing judicial ethics violations that could result in his removal from the state Supreme Court. The charges date back to the legal controversy and confusion over same-sex marriage in Alabama earlier this year, and Moore’s personal battle against it.

Chief Justice Moore has some history with this court. In 2003, he was removed from office for unrelated judicial ethics violations. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has the latest on Chief Justice Moore’s case and what to expect tomorrow.

Roy Moore
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is headed to trial next month.

The nine members of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary decided yesterday’s hearing wasn’t enough to address the ethics charges against Chief Justice Moore. The Chief Justice is accused of abusing his power as chief justice to promote an agenda against same-sex marriage. The Judicial Inquiry Commission says Moore encouraged the state’s probate judges to defy a U.S. Supreme Court decision that had already legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore will appear before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary this afternoon.

Moore is facing judicial ethics violations that could result in his removal from the head of the Alabama Supreme Court. The charges stem from an order Moore gave the state's probate judges back in January encouraging them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. That was in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s effort to have his ethics charges dismissed has been thrown out by a federal judge.

Yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton issued an order dismissing Moore’s lawsuit against the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission. Alabama’s chief justice is facing ethics charges that could result in his removal from office, and Judge Allbritton says that state process should continue without federal interference.

Roy Moore
AP

Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore was scheduled to appear in federal court this morning in an effort to have his judicial ethics charges dismissed.

But U.S. District Judge Harold Allbritton canceled that hearing yesterday, saying his eventual decision would be based on legal documents alone.

Newly released documents show Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore urged fellow justices to action after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Court papers filed today show Moore asking the other justices to clarify the state's position in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

The documents show Moore cites Kentucky court clerk and gay-marriage opponent Kim Davis in claiming that Christians who oppose same-sex weddings could be forced to give up their public jobs.

Alabama Supreme Court
Chris Pruitt / Wikimedia

A north Alabama attorney has been appointed to serve on the court currently considering judicial ethics charges that could result in the removal of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Attorney W.N. "Rocky" Watson of Fort Payne will replace Opelika attorney John V. Denson on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary during the Moore case. Denson recused himself from the case to avoid any appearance of impropriety. He is the only current member of the Court of the Judiciary that was also on the body in 2003, when Chief Justice Moore was first removed from office.

One member of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary has recused himself from the upcoming decision on the fate of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Opelika attorney John V. Denson is one of nine judges, attorneys and other citizens who serve on Alabama’s Court of the Judiciary. He says he is recusing himself from the case to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Denson is the only current member of the Court who also served on the body in 2003, when Chief Justice Moore was first removed from office.

The U.S. Supreme Court says death-row prisoners must have "rational understanding" that they are about to be executed and why.  But a lawyer for an Alabama inmate say their client fails that test.

A lawyer for 65-year-old Vernon Madison told a panel of 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges today that stroke-induced dementia has made Madison unable to understand why the state plans to execute him. Madison was convicted in the 1985 killing of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte.

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is asking a state judicial panel to dismiss ethics charges against him. Moore says he never told probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples.

Moore is accused of violating judicial ethics with a 2016 administrative order.  It came six months after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage.

His lawyers say the order only noted correctly that a state court injunction to refuse same-sex marriage licenses had not been lifted.

Supreme Court
Equal Justice Initiative

The U.S. Supreme Court says lower courts in Alabama and two other states must re-examine three death penalty convictions for evidence of racial prejudice in jury selection.

The court ruled yesterday in the cases of Christopher Floyd of Alabama, Jabari Williams of Louisiana and Curtis Giovanni Flowers of Mississippi.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says water officials in north Alabama “unnecessarily” caused panic when they issued an advisory not to drink potentially contaminated tap water.

Lawyers have picked a jury for House Speaker Mike Hubbard's ethics trial scheduled to start next week. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

The panel of 12 jurors and four alternates is made up of five black men, four white men, four black women and three white women.

The Montgomery Advertiser and al.com reports that Lee County Judge Jacob Walker instructed the panel not to discuss the high-profile case.

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.

Alabama Supreme Court
Chris Pruitt / Wikimedia

An Alabama judicial regulatory body will decide whether Roy Moore should be removed as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court.

Moore faces removal from the bench over his effort to block same-sex marriage from coming to Alabama despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed ethics charges against Moore late last week, accusing him of abusing his authority and failing to respect the judiciary.

slate.com

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended with pay from his office and faces removal from the bench. The action comes from his effort to block same-sex marriage from coming to Alabama despite the U.S. Supreme Court that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.   

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission on Friday filed ethics charges against Moore accusing him of abusing his authority and failing to respect the judiciary

Committees in Alabama’s House of Representatives passed two notable bills yesterday. One would prevent abortion clinics from being located near public schools, and another would take the state of Alabama out of the marriage process entirely.

Legislators say the abortion bill is aimed at protecting students from the chaos of protestors outside abortion clinics. It would close an existing abortion facility in Huntsville, which was forced to move to its current location near a public school after the state mandated new facility requirements in 2013.

Alabama's attorney general is appealing a recent ruling that declared the state's death penalty sentencing system unconstitutional.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tracie Todd doesn't have the authority to prevent the state from seeking the death penalty against defendants who are charged with capital murder.

In Alabama death penalty cases, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final say. It’s not uncommon for state judges to overturn a jury recommendation of life in prison in favor of the death penalty.

Federal labor officials are suing an international automotive supplier and managers of the company’s plant in Selma. They claim the company retaliated against employees who raised concerns over dangerous working conditions and inadequate benefits.

According to a complaint filed late last week, three employees at Lear Corporation's Renosol Seating plant in Selma complained to federal labor officials two years ago that they'd been exposed to a chemical that caused health problems and were treated unfairly when they were transferred to another facility.

The U.S. Supreme Court says Alabama’s highest court overstepped its bounds when it invalidated a lesbian mother’s adoption. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more.

 The Supreme Court ruled unanimously to throw out an Alabama Supreme Court decision denying a lesbian woman adoption rights she had previously been granted.

The woman had adopted three children with a former partner. When she tried to ensure her visitation rights, the Alabama Supreme Court said her adoption was invalid.

A Jefferson County judge has ruled Alabama’s method of imposing the death penalty unconstitutional.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tracie Todd sided with defense attorneys who argued that Alabama’s death penalty statute was extremely similar to Florida’s, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s law was unconstitutional in January.

In death penalty cases in Alabama and Florida, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final decision. It’s not uncommon for Alabama judges to overrule a jury suggestion of life in prison and impose the death penalty.

Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again suggesting that gay marriage is illegal in Alabama, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Moore issued an administrative order yesterday advising probate judges not to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He says the state Supreme Court never lifted its directive from March advising judges to abide by the Alabama constitution.

Supreme Court
Wikimedia

An Alabama woman who had her adoption rights stripped by the state Supreme Court is now turning to the highest court in the nation.

The woman identified as V.L. adopted her long-term partner’s three children in Georgia. When the couple later split, the biological mother prevented V.L. from seeing her children. V.L. asked Alabama's Supreme court for help. Instead, the justices invalidated her adoptions.

Cathy Sakimura is an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and represents the woman. She says what Alabama’s Supreme Court did was unprecedented.

Barry Electric Plant
Wikimedia

Alabama’s power plants are burning less coal and a lot more natural gas, and one group of scientists has taken notice.

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report today analyzing each state’s current and future dependence on natural gas as a fuel source. Alabama was one of six states deemed at high risk of over-reliance in nearly every aspect of the study.

John Rogers is a senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He thinks power companies need to make smarter and more balanced investments, instead of going all-in on natural gas.

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