Attorneys for suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore say they expect to appeal if the Court of Judiciary finds he violated judicial ethics by defying a federal court order to move a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building.
Attorney General Bill Pryor will prosecute Moore during the trial before the Court of the Judiciary set to start November 12th. Moore's attorneys have said an appeal is likely, even if he is only reprimanded and not removed from office at that trial.
But the question is who will hear that appeal. Appeals of Court of the Judiciary decisions normally go to the Alabama Supreme Court, but one of Moore's attorneys, former Supreme Court Justice Terry Butts, said he expects some or all of the current Supreme Court justices to disqualify themselves.
The associate justices could step down from hearing the case because they have worked with Moore for the past three years or because they made the final decision to move the monument from the judicial building rotunda into a storage room.
According to Butts, the problem is that there are conflicting opinions on who would appoint replacement justices to hear Moore's appeal. State law says replacement justices would be appointed by the chief justice or associate justices, and if they are not able to do it, the governor would make the appointment.
The Alabama Constitution says it's the duty of the chief justice to appoint judges "for temporary service." Butts says the issue hasn't been resolved. In recent years, the court has appointed it's own replacements, but some justices have argued that only the governor has the authority to appoint replacements.
Retired Chief Justice Perry Hooper Senior -- Moore's predecessor -- says the current Supreme Court should appoint any replacements because they are in charge of the judiciary branch -- "not the legislative or executive branches." Hooper would expect the current justices to appoint retired judges with no involvement in the case.