MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An ethics complaint has been filed against Acting Alabama Chief Justice Lyn Stuart over her handling of suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore and his upcoming appeal.
The organization Sanctity of Marriage Alabama filed the complaint with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) on Oct. 24, asserting that she has violated multiple Canons of Judicial Ethics in her alleged mishandling of the matter.
“Justice Stuart played a part in a sealed case regarding Chief Justice Moore, has repeatedly, prematurely, and boldly inserted her judgment for that of courts over which she should have no sway, and even now, refuses to disqualify herself from the process of Chief Justice Moore’s appeal,” President Tom Ford said in a statement.
The complaint provides a chronology of events that took place under Stuart’s direction, including her termination of Moore’s employees although his case is on appeal and instructing Moore to remove his belongings from the Alabama Supreme Court. It also takes issue that Stuart, having knowledge of the Moore matter, did not recuse herself from participating in the appeal process.
“Acting Chief Justice Lynn Stuart has failed to conduct herself in a manner promoting public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, has engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and has refused to refrain from engaging herself in a proceeding where personal bias and personal knowledge of vital evidence renders impartiality impossible,” the complaint reads.
It notes specifically that in May, when Moore was first placed under automatic suspension until his trial was to be held, Stuart moved Moore’s executive assistant of our her office and placed her computer in storage. She also informed Moore’s chief of staff that Moore would not be allowed in his office and that if he wished to obtain access to his personal belongings, he would need to be escorted by a marshal.
Earlier this month, following his trial, Moore filed a motion that Stuart and several other justices recuse themselves from his appeal and from “playing any role in selecting a substitute court.” While the other justices removed themselves from the process, Stuart did not.
The day after Moore filed the motion, Stuart sent a letter to Moore, instructing him to contact a marshal to arrange the removal of his personal belongings and the turning in of his keys, setting a deadline of Oct. 18. She also terminated all of Moore’s staff and instructed them to remove their belongings as well.
“By her actions to clear out the office and staff of Chief Justice Roy Moore, Justice Lyn Stuart has improperly and prematurely acted as though the upcoming appeal has already been decided, has boldly made her judgment known to the State of Alabama, and has essentially inserted her judgment for that of a special court which she should have no sway,” the complaint reads.
“By hosting the sealed case and cleaning house over the past few weeks, Justice Stuart has communicated to the public that she is unwilling to disqualify herself from the process even though there is more than a reasonable question about her impartiality in the case,” it continues.
Sanctity of Marriage Alabama is therefore requesting that the JIC investigate the matter and press ethics charges.
As previously reported, last week, Moore and his attorney Philip Jauregui walked out of the proceedings to select appeal judges after Jauregui confronted Stuart.
“We have a motion pending to continue this procedure because of the methodology that was set by justices that should have recused in this sealed case,” attorney Philip Jauregui declared. “This court has refused to address that motion.”
“We can’t address it. You may be seated,” replied Stuart.
“Well, I’m leaving, your honor, and Chief Justice Moore will address the media outside,” Jaurequi announced as the two, as well as Moore’s family, stood and walked out of the courtroom.
According to Stuart’s bio on the Alabama Supreme Court website, Stuart and her husband George attend First United Methodist Church of Bay Minette, “where Lyn serves as a member of the church council, sings in the choir, and teaches an adult Sunday School class.”