Saturday, March 03, 2018

Alabama Judicial Ethics Provision Enjoined In Part

In Parker v. Judicial Inquiry Commission of the State of Alabama, (MD AL, March 2, 2018), an Alabama federal district court held that a provision in Alabama's Canon of Judicial Ethics, because of its breadth, violates the free speech provisions of the 1st Amendment.  At issue was the provision that: "A judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court...."  A complaint had been filed against Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker over his comments on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell decision on an earlier Alabama Supreme Court order barring probate judges from issuing licenses for same-sex marriages. The court issued a preliminary injunction barring the Judicial Inquiry Commission
from enforcing Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics 3A(6) to the extent that it proscribes public comment by a judge about a pending or impending proceeding in a court outside the state of Alabama, [or] ... proscribes public comment by a judge that cannot reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a proceeding in Alabama.
Liberty Counsel issued a press release announcing the decision.