Last edited: February 14, 2005

Moore’s Attorney Says Group Seeking to Remove Chief Justice

Associated Press, March 1, 2002

By Phillip Rawls

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)—A lawyer for Chief Justice Roy Moore said a complaint filed against the judge by a legal group for gays is an effort to remove him from office and amounts to trying to "kill the messenger."

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a complaint last week with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission, asking it to investigate Moore because of his Feb. 15 opinion in which he called homosexuality an "inherent evil."

Moore’s attorney, Stephen Melchior, held a news conference Friday in the State Judicial Building where he said Moore’s opinion simply stated the common law and the Alabama law on homosexuality.

"The message, i.e. the law, is not popular to a particular group of people because of the conduct they engage in," Melchior said. "They want to kill the messenger."

Lambda, which represents gay parents in legal matters, asked the Judicial Inquiry Commission to investigate Moore for possible violation of the state’s ethical standards that require judges to be impartial and to promote public confidence in the judiciary.

Moore’s opinion was written as a concurring opinion in a case where the court awarded custody of three children to a heterosexual father rather than a homosexual mother. The court’s main opinion, written by Justice Gorman Houston, focused on legal issues in the case rather than the mother’s sexuality.

Lambda’s deputy legal director, Michael Adams, said Friday the public should remember that none of the other eight justices on the Supreme Court signed Moore’s concurring opinion.

"That’s because it’s not the law. It’s his personal bias and religious belief," Adams said in an interview.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission investigates complaints against judges. If it finds a basis for a complaint, it refers the matter to the state Court of the Judiciary, which can try a judge and levy punishment ranging from a reprimand to removal from office.

Melchior said that is Lambda’s goal. "It’s a political effort to try to remove Chief Justice Moore," he said.

Moore was a circuit judge in Gadsden prior to getting elected chief justice in 2000. In 1996, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals required Moore to step aside from a case involving a parent involved in a gay relationship.

Melchior acknowledged that happened, but maintained Moore can be fair to homosexuals in court.

Adams disagreed. "Chief Justice Moore’s opinion makes it clear gay people can’t get a fair hearing," he said.

Besides Lambda, state Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, sent a complaint about Moore to the Judicial Inquiry Commission on Feb. 18. Holmes said Friday the commission sent the complaint back because it wasn’t on the proper form, and he plans to file it again correctly.

In addition to representing Moore on the judicial complaint, Melchior is defending him against lawsuits challenging his placement of a Ten Commandments monument in the State Judicial Building.

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