AL Chief Justice Moore trial ends, verdict delayed - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

AL Chief Justice Moore trial ends, verdict delayed

AL Chief Justice Roy Moore in Court of Judiciary hearing Wednesday. (Source: AL Court of Judiciary) AL Chief Justice Roy Moore in Court of Judiciary hearing Wednesday. (Source: AL Court of Judiciary)
Supporters and opponents gather outside courthouse (Source: WSFA 12 News) Supporters and opponents gather outside courthouse (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Supporters and opponents of Justice Moore gather outside courthouse for trial (Source: WSFA 12 News) Supporters and opponents of Justice Moore gather outside courthouse for trial (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The trial of suspended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ended Wednesday afternoon, but the Court of the Judiciary said the verdict would not be reached Wednesday and would not be announced at all in court.

The verdict will be announced within the next 10 days and will be emailed to the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) and to Moore's attorneys and placed on the court's website. [EDITOR'S NOTE: This has been updated to indicate 10 days, not 110]

Moore is accused of misusing his office by allegedly trying to block gay couples from marrying in the state. 

The main disagreements between the two sides are whether or not Moore ordered the probate judges to defy federal law and whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage trumped Alabama law.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission contends that all states are bound by SCOTUS rulings whether or not they are parties in the case and also, that when there are conflicting rulings, the federal law trumps state law, citing the supremacy clause in the U.S. Constitution.

However, Moore and his attorneys argued this isn’t true, and it’s a misinterpretation of the supremacy clause. Moore and his attorney contend the Alabama law banning same-sex marriage was still in effect.

Moore and his attorney Matt Staver argued Moore’s administrative order was simply a status update on the pending case concerning same-sex marriage before the Alabama Supreme Court, and Moore issued it because of confusion amongst probate judges.

Staver said Moore’s order speaks for itself because it includes a paragraph in which he states he can’t provide guidance to probate judges on what to do.

“You don't have a defiant chief justice before you,” Staver said.

But defiant is essentially what JIC attorney John Carroll called Moore in his final statements, saying Moore has fostered the idea that judges can defy the federal judiciary. Carroll got the final word and ended the JIC’s arguments by referencing the 2003 case that resulted in Moore’s removal from the bench.

Carroll said Moore didn’t learn anything from the 2003 case and refuses to accept that federal law trumps state law. 

Moore said the issue was that there were conflicting state and federal orders. Moore has argued that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling didn’t overrule Alabama law, and marriage is a state issue.

However, the Judicial Inquiry Commission said that’s not the case because of the Supremacy Clause in the U.S Constitution and because all states are bound by SCOTUS rulings whether or not they are parties in the case.

“The game of constitutional chicken is over, but the chief justice refuses to accept it,” Ashby Pate with the JIC said.

Pate added that the Alabama law might’ve been on the books still, but it wasn’t enforceable.

In closing arguments, the JIC argued Moore violated the rule of law and the cannons of judicial ethics with his actions, and the only answer is for him to be removed from his position.

“The state of Alabama deserves better. The rule of law deserves better,” Pate said.

BACKGROUND

In January, Moore sent an order to probate judges saying that an Alabama court order to refuse same-sex marriage licenses remained in effect, despite the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission said Moore was urging defiance of federal courts on gay marriage.

Moore was suspended in May and then sued the Commission, saying it violated his rights by suspending him. That suit was later dismissed by U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton.

In November 2003,  the Court of Judiciary removed Moore from office for defying a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building.

A summary timetable of events leading up to Wednesday's decision:

  • November 2003 Roy Moore removed from the high court by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary
  • June 2006 loses bid for Republican nomination for Alabama Governor
  • June 2010 loses bid for Republican nomination for Alabama Governor
  • January 2013 sworn in for second time as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court
  • January 2015: Federal judge in Mobile rules Alabama's marriage laws banning same sex marriage unconstitutional
  • January 2015: SPLC files complaint (first of four) to the Judicial Inquiry Commission
  • February 2015: Moore advises Alabama probate judges against issues marriage licenses, SPLC files second complaint
  • February 2015: Some Alabama probate judges begin issues marriage licenses to same sex couples
  • March 2015: Federal judge orders all Alabama probate judges to issue same sex marriage licenses regardless of state marriage laws. 
  • March 2015: Alabama Supreme Court orders state probate judges not to issue same sex marriage licenses
  • June 2015: US Supreme Court legalizes same sex marriage nationwide
  • July 2015: SPLC files another complaint against Moore to the Judicial Inquiry Commission
  • January 2016: Moore issues administrative order to probate judges saying Alabama Supreme Court order from March 2015 still in place
  • April 2016: Moore holds press conference defending himself against the SPLC complaints to the Judicial Inquiry Commission
  • May 2016: Moore is suspended from the bench after Judicial Inquiry Commission files ethics charges
  • August 2016: Court of the Judiciary denies Moore's request to dismiss charges, set trial
  • September 28th - Trial

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