BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A former federal magistrate and law school dean will prosecute suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on judicial ethics charges linked to his opposition to same-sex marriage, a state official said Thursday.
Rosa Davis, general counsel for the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, said the agency has hired John Carroll to prosecute allegations that could lead to Moore's removal. Carroll was a federal magistrate before becoming the law school dean at Samford University, where he still teaches in metro Birmingham.
Mat Staver, an attorney for Moore, criticized the decision because Carroll once worked as legal director of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, which filed a complaint against Moore over his opposition to same-sex marriage. Tapping Carroll to prosecute Moore was a "brazen act" that calls the entire process into question, he said in a statement.
"I have almost no words for this corrupt and unjust system," Staver said.
Carroll, who left the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1984, declined to comment. He referred questions to the Judicial Inquiry Commission, where Davis also declined to comment on Staver's claims.
The commission, a state agency that investigates complaints against judges, filed a complaint earlier this month accusing Moore of willfully failing to respect the authority of federal court decisions that cleared the way for gay marriage.
Moore opposes same-sex marriage on the basis of faith and the law. He issued an administrative order to state probate judges in January that said state laws against gay marriage remained in place months after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Moore, a Republican, was suspended from the all-GOP Supreme Court when the charges were filed. His attorneys have until early next month to file an official response but already have publicly claimed that the commission overstepped its authority with the charges against Moore.
The charges will be prosecuted by the commission before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, which is composed of judges and attorneys.
Moore previously was removed as chief justice in 2003 over a Ten Commandments monument he erected in the rotunda of Alabama's judicial building and refused to remove despite a federal judge's order. Colleagues later had the monument removed, and Moore easily won re-election later.