The Latest: Ethics body wants Alabama chief justice removed
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on efforts an effort to remove Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore from office and an impeachment investigation against Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (all times local):
A judicial ethics panel wants Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore swiftly removed from office for urging the state’s probate judges to defy the federal courts on gay marriage.
Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission wrote Friday that Moore’s unremorseful “flouting” of the rule of law merits the highest possible sanction it can levy against a sitting judge, which is immediate removal from office.
Moore told state probate judges in January that a state injunction against gay marriage was in “full force and effect. His order came six months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.
Moore asked to dismiss the ethics complaint. He argued that was not telling probate judges what to do, and was only responding to questions about the status of a case. The commission called his explanation “semantic gamesmanship.”
A lawyer for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley says the governor is not under investigation by a state grand jury that heard testimony from Bentley this week.
Joe Espy made the statement Friday, a day after news broke that the governor had appeared before the grand jury seated this week by the attorney general.
Espy said he thinks the grand jury is investigating “a number of things” but he does not does not believe that includes Bentley. The lawyer says he accompanied the governor, but grand jury secrecy rules prohibit people from discussing testimony.
Bentley sent the attorney general a report in March describing possible misuse of state funds at the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency under Spencer Collier. The former secretary, who was dismissed by Bentley, fired back by accusing his former friend of having an affair with a staffer and interfering with law enforcement business.
High-profile lawyers have been named to both sides in the impeachment investigation against Gov. Robert Bentley, and Alabama’s taxpayers will foot the bill.
Bentley’s office announced Friday that it is hiring Ross Garber, who represented the governors of South Carolina and Connecticut during impeachment proceedings.
Alabama’s House Judiciary Committee named Birmingham attorney Jackson Sharman as its special counsel. That’s a role he had with the U.S. House Banking Committee for the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration.
Judiciary Chairman Mike Jones said Sharman will lead the investigation to determine if Bentley committed impeachable offenses. Twenty-three House members signed impeachment articles accusing the governor of corruption and neglect of duty after Bentley admitted making inappropriate remarks to a former aide.