Manifest prejudice

The Oregon Supreme Court recently held that a judge committed willful misconduct by having his staff screen marriage requests to ensure that he did not perform ceremonies for same-sex couples.  Inquiry Concerning Day, Opinion (Oregon Supreme Court March 15, 2018).

After a federal district court invalidated the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in May 2014, the judge told his judicial assistant and his clerk to “discreet[ly]” try to determine whether a request to perform a marriage was from a same-sex couple by checking for gender information in the judicial case information network, which they had not done prior to the federal decision.  If the request was from a same-sex couple, he instructed, they should tell the couple that he was not available on the requested date or notify him so that he could decide how to proceed.  The judge’s judicial assistant determined that a requesting couple might be a same-sex couple 1 time, but the judge had an actual scheduling conflict, and she truthfully told the couple that he was not available.  Several weeks later, the judge stopped solemnizing all marriages.  His judicial assistant and others testified that they never had seen or known the judge to discriminate against or speak in a derogatory way about the LGBT community.

Rule 3.3(B) of the Oregon code of judicial conduct provides that:  “A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct, manifest bias or prejudice, or engage in harassment, against parties, witnesses, lawyers, or others based on attributes including but not limited to, sex, gender identity, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation and shall not permit court staff, court officials, or others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.”  (Rule 3.3(B) is similar but not identical to Rule 2.3(B) of the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct.)  Rejecting arguments by the judge and amici curiae, the Court held that solemnizing marriages is a judicial duty, noting that, although judges are not required to perform marriages, “it is by virtue of holding judicial office that a judge is statutorily authorized to do so.”

The Court noted that Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “manifest” “in part, as ‘to show plainly:  make palpably evident or certain by showing or displaying.’”  That definition, it concluded, means that a judge’s conduct must be “obvious to others” to constitute a violation of Rule 3.3(B).  The Court noted that the public was not aware of the judge’s screening process, but it stated that he “indisputably communicated to his staff his intention to treat same-sex couples” differently than opposite-sex couples and “directed his staff to participate in that different treatment.”  Therefore, it concluded, his instructions manifested prejudice within the meaning of Rule 3.3(B).

Rejecting the judge’s argument, the Court concluded that it was irrelevant that no same-sex couple was refused the opportunity to marry as a result of his actions.  It acknowledged that most manifestations of bias “involve a judge’s overt and prejudicial treatment of a particular person involved in a proceeding before the court—such as a litigant, juror, witness, or lawyer.”  However, emphasizing that the “fundamental objective” of Rule 3.3(B) was “ensuring the public’s trust in an impartial and fair judiciary,” the Court concluded that the “rule is not limited to a manifestation of prejudice against an identified, particular person” but also includes “an expression of bias against an identifiable group, based on personal characteristics, in the performance of judicial duties.”

The judge argued that he had not intended to discriminate against same-sex couples but was only “trying to maintain the tenets of his faith.”  That Court stated that, regardless of his intent, the judge’s instructions to his staff were “an intentional action” that subjected same-sex couples to discriminatory treatment.  The Court also noted that the judge’s direction that his staff be “discreet” “reflected an understanding” that his conduct may have violated the code.

However, the Court did not sanction the judge for adopting the screening process, despite what some headlines stated or suggested.  See, e.g., Law360.com, “Ore. Judge Suspended For ‘Screen’ Of Gay Marriage Couples;” and OregonLive.com, “Judge Vance Day — who wouldn’t marry same-sex couples — suspended for 3 years.”  In the disciplinary proceedings, the judge argued that sanctioning his actions regarding same-sex marriage request would violate his constitutional rights.  The Court sidestepped those “important and complex issues” by concluding that, even if it rejected the judge’s constitutional challenge, the sanction it was already imposing for the judge’s other “notably serious misconduct” would not change.  Thus, without consideration of the same-sex marriage issue, the Court suspended the judge for 3 months without pay for (1) having out-of-court contacts with a probationer in the veterans treatment court over which he presided; permitting the probationer to twice handle a gun despite the firearms prohibition that was a condition of his probation; and making a false statement to the presiding judge about the gun-handling incidents; and (2) making a false statement to the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability during its investigation of the judge’s conduct at a soccer game.

Oregon judge suspended — but not because he used a screening process to avoid conducting same-sex marriages

The Oregon Supreme Court held that a judge had committed willful misconduct by having his staff screen marriage requests to ensure that he did not marry same-sex couples, but the Court declined to consider the judge’s constitutional challenge because a decision on that issue would not affect its conclusion that the judge should be suspended for 3 years without pay for (1) having out-of-court contacts with a probationer in the veterans treatment court; permitting the probationer to twice handle a gun despite the firearms prohibition that was a probation condition; and making a false statement to the presiding judge about the gun-handling incidents; and (2) making a false statement to the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability during its investigation of the judge’s conduct at a soccer game.  Inquiry Concerning Day, Opinion (Oregon Supreme Court March 15, 2018).

Click here for previous posts on same-sex marriage and judicial ethics

 

Disingenuous

A special Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of the Court of the Judiciary suspending Chief Justice Roy Moore from office without pay for the remainder of his term for ordering all probate judges to follow the state’s same-sex marriage ban despite a federal court injunction requiring the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and for failing to disqualify from the state case on same-sex marriage after taking a position on the issue in the order to probate judges.  Moore v Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court April 19, 2017).

In early 2015, a federal district court enjoined enforcement of Alabama laws banning same-sex marriage, and the Eleventh Circuit upheld the injunction, but the Alabama Supreme Court held the state ban was constitutional.  Several days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Alabama Supreme Court invited argument on the effect of Obergefell on its prior decisions.  In July, lifting a stay it had entered pending the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the federal district court stated its injunction was binding on all Alabama probate judges.  In September, 2 probate judges filed petitions with the Alabama Supreme Court seeking a writ of mandamus directing them not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On January 6, 2016, believing, as the special Court found, that the “Court was taking too long to decide the issue” and “deciding he could wait no longer,” the Chief Justice filed an administrative order that stated:  “IT IS ORDERED AND DIRECTED THAT:  Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect.”  In the administrative order, the Chief Justice did not mention the federal injunction or the Eleventh Circuit’s decision upholding the injunction.

In March 2016, the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the probate judges’ petitions seeking a writ of mandamus.  The Chief Justice participated in the decision, writing a special concurrence into which he “copied and pasted substantial portions” of his administrative order.

Based on a complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the Court of the Judiciary found that the Chief Justice, in the administrative order, had demonstrated an unwillingness to follow clear law, had decided substantive legal issues while purporting to act in his administrative capacity, had substituted his judgment for the judgment of the entire Court on a substantive legal issue in a case then pending in that Court, and had interfered with the legal process and remedies in the U.S. District Court and the Alabama Supreme Court; the Court also found that the Chief  Justice should have disqualified himself from the decision on the probate judges’ petitions.  The Court of Judiciary decision is summarized in a prior blog post, “Not about same-sex marriage.”

The special Supreme Court held that the Court of the Judiciary’s findings were supported by clear and convincing evidence.  It is notable how often the special Supreme Court concluded, either directly or by agreeing with the findings of the Court of the Judiciary, that the Chief Justice’s administrative order or his defense of his conduct was disingenuous, not credible, or misleading.  For example:

  • The special Court repeatedly noted that the Chief Justice omitted from his arguments that his administrative order had “ordered and directed” probate judges not to issue marriage licenses while they were unquestionably bound by the federal court injunction. For example, despite the “ordered and directed” language, he argued the order was merely a “status update.”
  • The Court found that the administrative order “served no purpose, other than to create confusion among the probate judges.” The Court of the Judiciary had noted that only 20 of Alabama’s 68 probate judges are lawyers.
  • The Court found that the Chief Justice’s failure to mention the federal injunction in the order was intentional but that that omission did “not absolve him of inciting those bound by it to disobey.”
  • Although the Chief Justice stated in the order “I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell,” the special Court explained that “[s]tating that one is not at liberty to provide guidance while taking great pains to include several pages of legal analysis and argument is disingenuous.”
  • The Court of the Judiciary found that the Chief Justice’s brief description of Obergefell in the order was “at best incomplete and at worst intentionally misleading” and that his use of caselaw was “incomplete, misleading, and manipulative.”

The Alabama Supreme Court that issued the opinion was comprised of 7 special justices chosen by random from a pool of retired appellate, circuit, and district justices and judges after the other supreme court justices recused themselves from the Chief Justice’s appeal.  Documents in the case are available on the Court of the Judiciary web-site.

Affirming discipline in Alabama same-sex marriage case

A special Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of the Court of the Judiciary suspending Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court from office without pay for the remainder of his term for directing or appearing to direct all Alabama probate judges to follow Alabama’s marriage laws in complete disregard of a federal court injunction; demonstrating an unwillingness to follow clear law; deciding substantive legal issues while purporting to act in his administrative capacity; substituting his judgment for the judgment of the entire Alabama Supreme Court on a substantive legal issue in a case then pending in that Court; interfering with the legal process and remedies in the U.S. District Court and/or the Alabama Supreme Court; and making a public comment about a pending proceeding and then failing to disqualify from the case.  Moore v Judicial Inquiry Commission (Alabama Supreme Court April 19, 2017).  The Court that issued the opinion was comprised of 7 special justices chosen after the other justice of the Court recused themselves from the appeal by random from a pool of all retired appellate justices and judges, retired circuit court judges, and retired district court judges, who are members of the Alabama State Bar, capable of service, and residents of the State of Alabama.  The Court of the Judiciary decision was summarized in a previous blog post.

Deeds, not faith

The Wyoming Supreme Court censured a judge who had announced her refusal to perform same-sex marriages and ordered that she either perform no marriage ceremonies or that she perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation.  Inquiry Concerning Neely (Wyoming Supreme Court March 7, 2017).  The Court emphasized:

This case is not about same-sex marriage or the reasonableness of religious beliefs. . . .  This case is also not about imposing a religious test on judges.  Rather, it is about maintaining the public’s faith in an independent and impartial judiciary that conducts its judicial functions according to the rule of law, independent of outside influences, including religion, and without regard to whether a law is popular or unpopular.

The judge has been a municipal court judge since 1994 and a part-time circuit court magistrate since 2001.  Her primary duty as a part-time magistrate was to perform marriage ceremonies.

It is undisputed that, as a devout Christian and member of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, the judge sincerely believes that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.  After the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming enjoined the state from enforcing or applying any “state law, policy, or practice, as a basis to deny marriage to same-sex couples,” a reporter asked Judge Neely if she was “excited” to be able to perform same-sex marriages.  She responded, “I will not be able to do them….  We have at least one magistrate who will do same-sex marriages, but I will not be able to.”  She also stated, “When law and religion conflict, choices have to be made.  I have not yet been asked to perform a same-sex marriage.”  An article with those quotes appeared in the Pinedale Roundup, and another paper published the article on-line.

The Court held that the judge’s refusal to conduct marriages on the basis of a couple’s sexual orientation failed to promote “public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and . . . avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety (in violation of Rule 1.2 of the code of judicial conduct); was not the fair and impartial performance of the duties of office “by any measure” (in violation of Rule 2.2); and could reasonably be perceived as biased (in violation of Rule 2.3).  Rejecting the judge’s arguments, the Court stated that she repeatedly “mischaracterizes her conduct” as “honestly conveying her religious beliefs” and emphasized its action “is a response to her deeds, not her faith.”  For example, it explained:

She is not subject to discipline merely because she has expressed her religious beliefs.  She has gone one or two critical steps farther than that to say that she will not impartially perform her judicial functions with respect to parties the United States Supreme Court has held have a constitutional right to be treated equally.

The Court concluded that “the problem of the public’s faith in judicial integrity remains” even if, as the judge argued, “others could perform marriages for same-sex couples, causing no disruption to their rights to marry.”

The Court also held that the U.S. Constitution permitted it to discipline the judge.  The Court distinguished cases relied on by the judge and amici in which the government had been required to allow free expression and accommodate religious beliefs.

  • Because “in Judge Neely’s case, public confidence in the judiciary is the central issue,” the Court distinguished a case holding that the post office was required to accommodate workers for whom processing draft registration forms was contrary to their religious beliefs where there was no issue of public confidence in the clerks’ neutrality.
  • Similarly, it distinguished a case requiring the IRS to allow an employee to disqualify himself from handling applications from groups with practices abhorrent to his religious beliefs because that accommodation would not impair taxpayer confidence in the tax system or the impartiality of the IRS.
  • The Court distinguished a case holding that Amish parents could not be forced to comply with the government’s requirement that they provide a social security number for their child to receive government benefits, which violated their sincerely held religious belief the number would rob their daughter’s spirit, because occasionally performing a same-sex marriage would not threaten the judge’s very “way of life.”
  • The Court distinguished cases holding that judicial candidates may express their views on disputed legal or political issues because the judge “does not merely believe that homosexuality is a sin; as a judge, she will manifest that belief by not treating homosexual persons the same way she treats heterosexual persons,” raising questions about her impartiality toward particular parties, rather than toward particular issues.

Instead, in its religious freedom analysis, the Court drew analogies to cases that refused to require government accommodations that would undermine the “fundamental function of the position” and that distinguished between the freedom to believe and the freedom to act.

  • It relied on cases upholding the termination of police officers who would not guard an abortion clinic or a casino because police officers “promise to enforce the law without favoritism—as judges take an oath to enforce all laws, without regard to their (or the litigants’) social, political, or religious beliefs.”
  • It relied on the removal of Chief Justice Roy Moore for his refusal to comply with a federal court order to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building because that court had concluded it was not about a public official’s right to acknowledge God, as he contended, but about a public official who took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and then refused to obey a valid order.
  • It cited a case in which a judge was removed for maintaining multiple marriages as a religious practice although it agreed that a Mormon judge could not be excluded from judicial office because he believed in polygamy as long as he did not break the law against polygamy.

In a footnote, the Court explained:

The law recognizes no hierarchy of sincerely held religious beliefs. . . .  Yet if Judge Neely had taken the position that her religion prevented her from conducting interracial marriages, a right which our society now generally accepts, there would be little controversy regarding her discipline.  While we respect the religious views of those who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong, we cannot give those views greater weight in our constitutional analysis simply because they are more widely held. . . .  It is of no moment whether advocates of same-sex marriage now enjoy or lack momentum in the democratic process.

Concluding that her misconduct warranted a public censure, the Court declined to remove the judge, as recommended by the Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics, to narrowly tailor the remedy.

2 justices dissented, stating “[c]ontrary to the position asserted by the majority opinion, this case is about religious beliefs and same sex marriage” and “whether there is a religious test for who may serve as a judge in Wyoming.”  The dissent emphasized that “Wyoming law does not require any judge or magistrate to perform any particular marriage, and couples seeking to be married have no right to insist on a particular official as the officiant of their wedding;” “that Judge Neely was never asked to perform a same sex marriage, and had never refused such a request;” “that there is no indication that any same sex couple is likely to be denied or delayed in obtaining a civil marriage because of Judge Neely’s statements or religious beliefs;” and that “if asked to perform such a marriage, Judge Neely would assist in finding an appropriate officiant, and that there is no shortage of such officiants.”

Same-sex marriage

The Wyoming Supreme Court has censured a judge for her refusal to perform same-sex marriages and ordered that she either perform no marriage ceremonies or that she perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation.  Inquiry Concerning Neely (Wyoming Supreme Court March 7, 2017).  In addition to finding that the judge’s expressed refusal to conduct same-sex marriages violated the code of judicial conduct, the Court addressed whether the provisions of the Wyoming code of judicial conduct alleged to have been violated by the judge were void for vagueness and whether the U.S. and Wyoming Constitutions permit the Court to discipline the judge for announcing that her religious beliefs prevent her from officiating same-sex marriages.  2 justices dissented.

 

Not about same-sex marriage

Based on a complaint by the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore from office without pay until the end of his term for an administrative order in which he directed or appeared to direct all Alabama probate judges to follow Alabama’s marriage bans for same-sex couples despite a federal court injunction.  In the Matter of Moore, Final judgment (Alabama Court of the Judiciary September 30, 2016).  The Court of the Judiciary emphasized that the case was only about “alleged violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics,” “not about whether same-sex marriage should be permitted,” or reviewing or editorializing about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, “a decision that some members of this court did not personally agree with or think was well reasoned.”  The Chief Justice filed a notice of appeal the next business day. (A timeline of relevant events is at the end of this post.)

In June 2015, in Obergefell, the U.S. Supreme Court held that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the federal constitution.  In January 2016, the Alabama Supreme Court was still considering the effect of Obergefell on its previous decision upholding the state’s same-sex marriage bans.  On January 6, noting confusion among the state’s probate judges, who issue marriage licenses, the Chief Justice filed an administrative order that “ordered and directed” that “Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act” until the Alabama Supreme Court ruled on issue.  The order did not mention the federal injunction that had enjoined all probate judges from refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Subsequently, the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed petitions filed by probate judges seeking a writ of mandamus directing that they not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Chief Justice Moore participated in the decision.

 The Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a complaint against Chief Justice Moore based on his January 6, 2016 administrative order.

The Court of the Judiciary rejected as “not credible” the Chief Justice’s argument that he filed the January 6 order “merely to provide a ‘status update’ to the State’s probate judges,” noting that “a judge does not issue a ‘status update’ that ‘orders and directs’ that a law remain in effect.”  The Court found that “a disinterested reasonable observer, fully informed of all the relevant facts, would conclude that the undeniable consequence of the January 6, 2016, order was to order and direct the probate judges to deny marriage licenses” and that the order “called for action – and that action would have been in defiance” of Obergefell and of the federal injunction.  Noting that only 20 of Alabama’s 68 probate judges are lawyers, the Court also stated that the Chief Justice’s use of legal authority in the January 6 order “was incomplete to the point that . . . it was intended to be misleading.”

The Court of the Judiciary concluded that the Chief Justice, by willfully issuing the January 6, 2016 order, completely disregarded a federal court injunction when he knew or should have known every Alabama probate judge was enjoined from using the Alabama marriage laws or any Alabama Supreme Court order to deny marriages licenses to same-sex couples.  It also held that he demonstrated an unwillingness to follow clear law, decided substantive legal issues while purporting to act in his administrative capacity, substituted his judgment for the judgment of the entire Alabama Supreme Court on a substantive legal issue in a case then pending in that court, and interfered with the legal process and remedies in the U.S. District Court and/or the Alabama Supreme Court to address the status of any proceeding in which Alabama’s probate judges were parties.  The Court found that the Chief Justice violated Canons 1, 2, 2A, 2B, and 3.  The Court also found that the Chief Justice’s order was a public comment about a pending proceeding that placed his impartiality into question, and, therefore, he should have disqualified himself from the subsequent decision by the Alabama Supreme Court on the effect of Obergefell.

The Court of the Judiciary concluded:

As this court stated in its 2003 order removing Chief Justice Moore from office:  “While this court respects Chief Justice Moore’s right to his personal opinion on the underlying issues . . . , the fact remains that Chief Justice Moore is the chief judicial officer of this State and is held to a higher standard than a member of the general public.”  The fact also remains that this is the second time Chief Justice Moore has caused himself to be brought before this court for taking actions grossly inconsistent with his duties as Chief Justice and in violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.  The result in both instances has been a lengthy, costly proceeding for this court, the JIC, and, most unfortunately, the taxpayers of this State.

 A majority of the Court agreed with the Commission that removal was the appropriate sanction; however, the Court’s rules provide that removal of a judge requires “the concurrence of all members sitting.”

Time line

2003-2013

November 2003:  Based on the complaint of the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removes Chief Justice Roy Moore from office for failing to comply with a federal court order that he remove a monument displaying the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the State Judicial Building.

April 2004:  A special Alabama Supreme Court affirms the judgment of the Court of the Judiciary.  (After the other justices of the Court recused, a special court of 7 members was chosen in a random drawing from a pool of retired justices and judges.)

2006:   Moore loses to the incumbent in the Republican primary for governor.

2010:  Moore places 4th in the Republican primary for governor.

November 2012:  Moore is elected Chief Justice for a second time.

January 2013:  Chief Justice Moore takes office for a 6-year term.

2015

January:  In Searcy v. Strange, a federal district court holds that Alabama’s same-sex marriage bans (the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act) are unconstitutional and enters a preliminary injunction enjoining enforcement by the state attorney general.

February:  The 11th Circuit refuses to stay the district court injunction.

In a letter and memorandum of law, Chief Justice Moore advises the state’s probate judges that they are “not required to defer to federal district and circuit court rulings” on constitutional issues regarding same-sex marriage.

Chief Justice Moore issues an administrative order advising the probate judges that they are not bound by the injunction in Searcy because they are not parties to the case.

In Strawser v. Strange, the federal district judge holds that Alabama’s same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional and enters a preliminary injunction enjoining the 1 probate judge who is a defendant from refusing to issue a marriage license to the same-sex plaintiffs.

March:  In Ex parte State ex rel. Alabama Policy Institute, the Alabama Supreme Court holds that Alabama’s same-sex marriage bans are constitutional and orders all probate judges who are not parties to Strawser to enforce the bans.  Chief Justice Moore did not participate because of his letter, memorandum, and administrative order to the probate judges.

May:  In Strawser, granting the plaintiff’s motion, the federal district court certifies a defendant class of all Alabama probate judges and preliminarily enjoins all members of the defendant class from denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but stays its injunction pending an imminent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

June:  In Obergefell v. Holdges, a case arising from challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry under the federal constitution and may exercise that right in all states.

The Alabama Supreme Court invites the parties in Alabama Policy Institute to address the effect of Obergefell on its decision upholding the bans.

July:  The federal district judge lifts the stay on the injunction in Strawser, noting it is binding on all Alabama probate judges.

September:  2 probate judges file petitions with the Alabama Supreme Court seeking a writ of mandamus directing probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

October:  The 11th Circuit summarily affirms the district court’s preliminary injunction.

2016

January:  Noting confusion among probate judges, the Chief Justice files an administrative order that “ordered and directed” that “Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act” until the Alabama Supreme Court rules on the pending petitions.

March:  The Alabama Supreme Court dismisses the probate judges’ petitions seeking a writ of mandamus.  Chief Justice Moore participates in the decision and files a special concurrence.

May:  The Judicial Inquiry Commission files a complaint against Chief Justice Moore based on his administrative order.  By automatic action of a provision in the state constitution, he is suspended with pay.

Chief Justice Moore files a federal lawsuit challenging the automatic suspension provision.

June:  Chief Justice Moore files a motion to dismiss the complaint.

July:  The only current member of the Court of the Judiciary who was also on the Court when it removed the Chief Justice in 2003 (1 of 2 lawyer members appointed by the Alabama State Bar) recuses himself from the proceedings, and the first alternate provided by the Bar is appointed a member of the Court for the matter.

August 8:  The federal district court dismisses the Chief Justice’s lawsuit, finding federal abstention was required.

The Court of the Judiciary denies the Chief Justice’s motion to dismiss.

September 28:  A 1-day hearing is held before the Court of the Judiciary.  (The Court’s rules provide that “a failure to convict within ten days after the conclusion of the hearing shall constitute an acquittal.”)

September 30:  The Court of the Judiciary suspends Chief Justice Moore from office without pay for the remainder of his term.  His attorney says he will appeal.

October 3:  The Chief Justice files a notice of appeal.