New report gives AL court system an F - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

New report gives AL court system an F

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

There is criticism aimed at Alabama's court system and a perceived lack of transparency on behalf of state judges. A new report by the Center for Public Integrity gives Alabama a failing grade overall when it comes to financial disclosure by Supreme Court justices.

Alabama's chief justice says there are already adequate measures in place to ensure judges are accountable.

Alabama isn't alone when it comes to getting a failing grade, but the report also cites some examples where members of the High Court ruled on matters in which they had personal stakes.

The Center for Public Integrity used examples from one former Alabama Supreme Court justice as proof the state's system has to change. Three years ago Jacquelyn Stuart didn't recuse herself, and instead ruled on cases involving Regions Financial and 3M, companies from which she had earned dividends and she reported her public filings. Those were clear conflicts of interest according to the report.

The report also cited weak ethics laws despite major changes three years ago. Chief Justice Roy Moore says the justices of the high court abide by the same rules as all elected officials and that the level of transparency that's required by law is better than in most states.

Moore continued, saying in a statement, "In large part the Center for Public Integrity's report affirms that Alabama judges are quite transparent about their financial disclosures. As officials elected by the people of Alabama, all judges and justices are required to report all campaign contributions over $100 to the Secretary of State, and those reports are published online."

The report wasn't all bad news. The state did receive high marks for access to public documents because the public could access them online through the Ethics Commission, 24-7.

Only nine states received passing grades in the report. The two highest rated states, Maryland and California each received a "C."

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