Select a State:

State of Alabama

History of Reform Efforts: Alabama

Unsuccessful Reform Efforts

The first citizen’s conference on Alabama’s state courts was convened by the Alabama State Bar with the assistance of the American Judicature Society. The conference made a number of recommendations regarding the judiciary, including the creation of a unified system of courts, the establishment of an administrative office of courts, the granting of rule-making power to the supreme court, and merit selection of judges. Except for merit selection, all of these recommendations were later accomplished during the 1970s.

The constitutional commission, which was created in 1969, had formulated a new judicial article in 1971. The second citizen’s conference on Alabama’s state courts, which convened in 1973, urged the legislature to submit the proposed article to voters. The legislature removed a provision creating a nominating commission for the appointment of judges to fill vacancies. The article, which made no changes to judicial selection methods, was ratified by 62.1% of voters in December.

The third citizen’s conference on Alabama state courts was convened. The conference considered revision of the canons of judicial ethics and the selection of judges to fill vacancies and for new terms. The conference recommended merit selection to fill vacancies and nonpartisan elections for new terms. The Alabama Supreme Court addressed the recommended revision to the judicial canons, but no action was taken on the judicial selection recommendation.

Proposals for nonpartisan elections were reported favorably from committee in both the house (Ala. H.B. 97-541) and senate (Ala. S.B. 97-431). However, both were postponed and were not carried over when the session ended.